Russian government did not let Japanese official travel to southern Kuril Islands; mayor of Nemuro town Shunsuke Hasegawa was ‘axed’ from the Japanese delegation there as the Russian Foreign Ministry informed him that he cannot join the session, accordng to Japan Times.
‘Russia’s denial was based on its territorial claim, which is theoretically unacceptable to Tokyo, which claims Russia “illegally” occupied the four isles after Japan’s surrender in World War II. Japan has called for the return of the islands for decades. Still, Tokyo apparently responded to Russia’s demand by removing Hasegawa from the study group. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida vaguely spoke about the mayor’s absence, telling a news conference on June 27 that it was a result of “arrangements with the parties involved.” The delegation began the feasibility study tour the same day. Because the joint feasibility study was a visa-free arrangement, Tokyo claimed that Hasegawa should be allowed to join the tour but Russia did not agree, the sources said,’ reads the story.
Previously, the Japanese government protested against Moscow’s decision to officially name five uninhabited islands of the Kuril range; Tokyo is also concerned about Russia’s missile launchers deployed in southern Kuril Islands.