Tokyo: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito
Sengoku has said that the government will file a protest
against a group of Japanese tourists for visiting one of the
four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan using Russian
visas, and a travel agency for organising the tour.
"If it is true that they visited the island, it goes
against the Cabinet decision and is extremely regrettable,"
Sengoku told a press conference. "We will protest strongly
against the travel agency and the tourists."
The Japanese government has been urging its citizens to
refrain from obtaining Russian visas to visit the disputed
four islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan, as it
effectively recognises Russia`s sovereignty over the islands.
The trip is believed to be the first sightseeing tour of
any of the four islands by a group of Japanese nationals. But
there have been known cases of people visiting the territory,
including a case last month in which two Japanese businessmen
made a trip to Kunashiri, as the Cabinet decision is not
"The government will urge the travel agency to refrain
from organising such tours and the tourists to not take part
in the future," Sengoku added.
The trip to Kunashiri Island was organised by a travel
agency in the city of Fukuoka, involving eight tourists aged
from 72 to 84 from Tokyo and Chiba, Kanagawa, Toyama, Osaka
and Hyogo prefectures, as well as an attendant from the
The group went to Kunashiri by taking a flight from
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on Monday and later plan to visit Etorofu
Island, also one of the four disputed islands.
The bilateral row over the islands, also including
Shikotan and the Habomai islet group off Japan`s northern
island prefecture of Hokkaido, has prevented the two countries
from signing a post-World War II peace treaty.