Russian Far Eastern airlines have announced that they will launch new direct flights between Vladivostok, the central city of the Far East, and Iturupu Island in the Northern Territories from next month, and Russia seems to be aiming to increase the flow of people to the island and strengthen its own development.
The Russian Far Eastern airline "Aurora" announced on its official website on the 20th that it will launch a new direct flight between Vladivostok, the central city of the Far East, and Iturupu Island in the Northern Territories, from the 6th of next month.
Using a subsidy program from the government, the airline will operate one flight per week in the future, saying that it is a socially important route.
Regular ferries and flights are operated from Sakhalin Oblast in the Far East to the Northern Territories, which are de facto under the jurisdiction of Russia, but Russia seems to be aiming to increase the flow of people to Iturupu Island and strengthen its own development by launching new flights from the mainland.
The Japan government has repeatedly protested against such a move by the Russian side, saying that it is "incompatible with the Japan's position on the Northern Territories and cannot be accepted," but the Russian side has not changed its hardline stance.
With regard to the Northern Territories, Russian tour companies are actively trying to attract not only Russians but also group tourists from China.
On the other hand, Russia unilaterally announced that it would suspend negotiations on a peace treaty, including the Northern Territories issue, in response to Japan's tightening of sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, and exchange programs such as visa-free exchanges remain suspended.