Premier Yoshiro Mori made the so-called "air inspection" of the South Kurile islands, the disputed territories which Japan demands belong to it, on Saturday. The premier inspected the islands from a military helicopter, which took off from the northern coast of Hokkaido, the Japanese island closest to Russia. Mori was the first premier in the past two years to make an air inspection of the islands.
Members of the Japanese government annually make such inspections, using aircraft, helicopters and vessels of the coast guard. The last to make such trip was Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, responsible for the Northern Territories. On February 17 this year, the ex-premier spent about two hours inspecting the South Kuriles from a helicopter. According to journalists who accompanied him, Hashimoto, known for his passionate love of photography, made quite a few photographs of the islands.