Kunashir Island.Source: Andrei Shapran
The Japanese government is making efforts via diplomatic channels to free a Japanese citizen who was detained in Kunashir, in Russia’s Kuril Islands, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on August 22.
The Kyodo news agency reported on August 22 that a Japanese interpreter who was visiting the island as part of a visa-free program was detained by Russia’s authorities during a baggage check. The man carried 4 million yen ($40,000) in cash, which he did not declare.
Russian authorities have not yet commented on the case.
Russia and Japan have a special visa-free program for residents of the Southern Kuril Islands and the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Most Japanese visitors to the islands are erstwhile residents of the chain that was governed by Tokyo until the end of the Second World War.
The Soviet Union seized the islands in the closing stages of the war.
Japan claims the islands, which Tokyo refers to as the Northern Territories, insisting on their return as a precondition to signing a World War 2 peace treaty with Russia.
The countries regularly hold talks on the territorial dispute at the deputy foreign minister level.
The issue will also be on the agenda when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok in September.
Materials from a TASS report were used in this article.
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