Japan Announces Trial Tour To Russian - Held Islands

Japan announces trial tour to Russian-held islands

Japan's Foreign Ministry announced a plan on Monday for a trial sightseeing tour of Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.

The tour was agreed to by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, as part of joint economic activity programs on the islands.

The six-day tour will begin on Friday. About 50 participants including tourists from Japan and government officials will travel by ship from Nemuro Port in Hokkaido to Kunashiri Island. They will visit a Russian Orthodox church and other popular tourist destinations. They will also visit a hot spring on Etorofu Island.

The tour costs around 2,800 dollars per person.

Tour reservations have already closed.

Through the trial tour, the Japanese government hopes to clarify issues regarding joint economic activities with Russia on the islands, and increase momentum toward the signing of a peace treaty.

The government maintains the four islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.