MOSCOW – A Japanese man who was questioned by authorities on Russian-held Kunashiri Island has been cleared to return home, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
The interpreter had been kept on the island, one of four off Hokkaido that are claimed by Japan, during a visit under a bilateral visa-free exchange program. Media reports said he was carrying undeclared cash when he underwent a baggage check to leave the island.
Every year, former residents, their descendants and others visit the Russian-held islands under the visa-free program that began in 1992.
Tokyo and Moscow have been locked in a long-standing dispute over the islands, which were seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender in World War II on Aug. 15, 1945.
The islands are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.