KUSHIRO, HOKKAIDO – A homecoming trip scheduled for former Japanese residents of the Russian-controlled islands off Hokkaido was postponed Sunday due to poor weather, government officials said.
About 70 people, including former islanders and their kin, are to be the first former residents to travel by air to the disputed isles. The trip was rescheduled for Monday.
Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group were seized by Soviet forces after shortly Japan surrendered to end World War II in August 1945.
The visitors are to fly to Kunashiri and Etorofu from Nakashibetsu Airport in Hokkaido.
Previously, the former islanders were only allowed to travel to the islands in the summer by chartered ship, but the trips were often canceled due to rough weather or fog.
The arrangement emerged after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin recently reached a bilateral agreement on joint development of the islands.
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