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Japanese tour of disputed islands holds out hope of progress with Russia

Russian-held Southern Kurils could become focus of cross-border free-travel zone

| Japan
Visitors from Japan arrive at Russian-held Kunashiri Island on Oct. 30: it was the first ever by Japanese tourists to the disputed islands.   © Kyodo

The arrival of Japanese tourists on the Southern Kuril Islands, which are held by Russia but claimed by Japan, represents a significant development in the countries' long-standing territorial dispute. Yet if this pilot trip is to become more than a historical footnote, it must be quickly expanded into a regular series of visits -- and this will require concessions from Japan.

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