Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has asked officials of his administration and ruling bloc lawmakers to consider organizing a trip for him to one of the Russian-held islands claimed by Japan around the end of this year, government sources said Tuesday.
It would be the first such trip by a prime minister to the disputed islands off Hokkaido.
Koizumi is considering going sometime between late this year, after an anticipated extra Diet session ends, and early next year, before an ordinary Diet session convenes, the sources said.
But Koizumi denied Tuesday that such planning is under way.
“I have not heard anything about it,” he said, adding he is “not thinking about it.”
The islands of Shikotan, Kunashiri, Etorofu and the Habomai group of islets were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The dispute over the islands has prevented the two countries from concluding a peace treaty.
To get to the island, the sources said, Koizumi could either fly from Tokyo to Nakashibetsu airport or Memambetsu airport in eastern Hokkaido and then travel aboard a Japan Coast Guard helicopter to Kunashiri or Etorofu, or he could travel in a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat from a location such as Nemuro port in eastern Hokkaido.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.