Visa-free exchanges between Japan and the Southern Kuril Islands will begin on May 26. A delegation of high school students from the Kurils will be the first to visit Japan on May 26, Russian Foreign Ministry Representative to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Vladimir Nosov has told Interfax.
"Russia completed internal procedures with regard to visa-free exchanges on May 22, and the foreign ministries of Russia and Japan met on the same day to approve the 2015 visa-free exchange plan. A delegation of Kuril children will open the exchange season. They will go on a weeklong vacation to Japan," he said.
The Russian delegation will comprise 50 high school students from the Yuzhno-Kurilsky and Kurilsky districts and a number of their pedagogues, he said.
Afterwards, a group of Kuril residents will undergo examination and treatment at Hokkaido clinics. The first Japanese delegation (64 persons) will arrive in the Kuril Islands on June 5 to visit graves of their ancestors.
Two Japanese groups whose visit to the Kuril Islands was thwarted by the protracted interdepartmental coordination process in May can also visit Russia this year. Their visits have been delayed, Nosov said.
It was previously reported that the incomplete interdepartmental coordination of the 2015 plan of visa-free exchanges with Japan required adjustment of the dates of the first two visits by Japanese delegations scheduled for the periods 15-18 May and 19-22 May. The Russian Foreign Ministry encouraged the organizers of visa-free exchanges to reschedule the trips to later dates.
An annual plan of visa-free exchanges (the number and time of visa-free visits paid by both sides) is coordinated each March at consultations between the Sakhalin region and Japan's Hokkaido. The plan is submitted to the Russian and Japanese foreign ministries for approval.
The 2015 regional consultations coordinated visits of more than 1,100 Japanese citizens (29 delegations) to the Southern Kurils and 360 Russians (residents of the Middle and South Kurils) or 16 delegations to Japan.
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