As per reports, the first trip of Japanese tourists to disputed Kuril Islands which was initially scheduled for October 11-16 has been delayed and postponed till October-end or early November, the Consulate General of Japan in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk has said on October 9.
On October 8, Japanese Foreign Ministry revealed that Russia had postponed the trip of Japanese tourists to Kunashir and Iturip islands of Kurils archipelago. "The pilot tour to the southern part of the Kuril Islands for Japanese tourists, scheduled for October 11-16, has been pushed back to a later date. Presumably, the trip will take place in late October or early November," the consulate said.
Reports say that earlier plan was for a group of 50 people involving tourists, diplomats, representatives of Japan tourism agency as well as doctors and interpreters were due to head port of Nemuro on Hokkaido on October 11 and arrive on Kunashir on the same day. The tour program included visits to the Orthodox churches and museums on Kunashir and visits to hot springs and white cliffs on Iturup on October 14.
Reports suggest that Russian-Japanese relations have long faced complications due to the fact that two nations never signed a permanent WWII peace treaty. The main point of contention which has divided the two countries is a group of four Kuril islands which are Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai. Russia has claimed sovereignty over the set of islands but Japan too lays claim on them. In the year 2016, in December during a visit to Japan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed upon the fact for the possibility of joint economic activities in the southern Kuril Islands. The two countries are currently in the process of making efforts to finalize a permanent peace treaty even though two sides are yet to overcome their differences.
(With ANI inputs)