The government plans to promote school trips to parts of Hokkaido near the Russian-held islands claimed by Japan to raise awareness among young people about the territorial dispute, it has been learned.
According to officials, tours will be organized for junior and senior high school teachers between summer and autumn of this year to help them choose destinations for the outings.
Teachers participating in the overnight tours will be taken to Nemuro and the towns of Betsukai, Nakashibetsu, Shibetsu and Rausu. The tours are also likely to include a visit to a facility on Cape Nosappu on the Nemuro Peninsula that addresses the territorial issue.
The teachers will also get the opportunity to view some of the disputed islands from observation posts along the coast of eastern Hokkaido if weather permits, the officials said. They will also get the chance to meet former residents of the isles.
The government has earmarked some ¥10 million in related costs for the plan in the draft budget for fiscal 2018. It is considering covering all transportation and accommodation costs for teachers who participate in the program, the officials said.
The government already has a subsidy program to promote school excursions to the area, but only nine schools used the program in fiscal 2016. It hopes that number will rise to around 20.
The islands in dispute were seized from Japan by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II. The dispute has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a peace treaty to formally end the war.