A Russian patrol vessel fired on a Japanese fishing boat off Nosappu Cape in Nemuro, Hokkaido, late June 25, seriously wounding two crew members, the Maritime Safety Agency office in Nemuro said June 26.

Nosappu Cape is near the Habomai group of islets, which are among the islands off Hokkaido held by Russia but claimed by Japan. The fishing boat, the Eiko Maru No. 63, with a crew of three, belongs to a fisheries cooperative in Nemuro, the office said. The two wounded were treated at a Nemuro hospital. Their injuries were reportedly not life threatening.

The office said it would inspect the fishing boat and also question the skipper, who was unharmed, about the vessel’s location when it was fired on. Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama said June 26 that Tokyo has confirmed the boat was fired on but had yet to confirm the nationality of the vessel that was shooting.

Tokyo has said if the reports turn out to be true, Moscow would be called on not to engage in “an unlawful use of force” against Japanese fishing boats again, Kajiyama said.

In Russia, border patrol authorities admitted June 26 that “warning shots” were fired at four Japanese fishing boats that entered Russian waters late June 25. The authorities said Russian patrol boats fired warning shots at the Japanese fishing boats after the Japanese allegedly ignored warnings through loudspeakers and wireless to leave the area.

The Russians said the Japanese boats were operating some 14 km within Russian-claimed waters. The authorities emphasized that the warning shots were fired in accordance with a Russian border law which allows such shots to be fired when violation of Russian territory occurs.

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