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With Russia's invasion of Ukraine negatively affecting negotiations between Tokyo and Moscow over a territorial row between the two countries, former residents of the disputed islands off the east coast of Hokkaido have voiced earnest hopes of retaining their right to set foot in their hometowns.

In response to Japanese sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, Russia unilaterally announced a halt to peace treaty talks with Japan and a suspension of a program that allowed visa-free visits by Japanese people to the four Russian-held islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories.

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