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This year, 1169 people will leave from Japan to Russia for visa-free exchange.
The first 46 residents of Japan this year will go on Friday to the Russian island of Kunashir (the Kuril Islands) from Japan as part of annual visa-free exchanges, RIA Novosti reported with reference to the organizers of the trip.
The group, which will go to Kunashir, consists of former residents of the South Kuril Islands and their relatives. The Etopirika will leave the port of Nemuro for Hokkaido. Participants of the trip will have the opportunity to visit Japanese cemeteries, as well as take a walk around the island. The group includes a Buddhist priest to perform a memorial service at the graves. The trip will last four days - until May 19.
"This year, 1169 people will go from Japan to Russia on a visa-free exchange. 29 trips are planned. In turn, 363 people are to come from Russia to Japan as part of the exchange," one of the organizers of the trip, Fumiyoshi Sato, told the agency.
The visa-free exchange between the residents of the Russian Southern Kuriles and Japan began in 1992 on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement to improve mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries and to resolve the issue of a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. Trips are carried out on a national passport with a special insert, without a visa.
Since April, 1992 of the year on Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup and the islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge have been visited by about 19 thousands of Japanese citizens. In the exchanges involved not only ordinary citizens, but also environmental scientists, museum workers, doctors. In 2013, on visa-free exchanges, 570 Japanese visited Russia.