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KUSHIRO, Hokkaido (Kyodo) A group of former Japanese residents and descendants of residents of disputed Russia-administered islands sailed from Nemuro port, Hokkaido, for Etorofu Island on Friday under a bilateral visa-free exchange program.

The 61-member group, the first Japanese contingent of visitors to the disputed territories this year, departed Nemuro on a chartered boat as they began a four-day trip under the program, which has been in place for 18 years.

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