• Kyodo

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A Russian court has awarded the city of Wakkanai, on the northern tip of Hokkaido, compensation for the cost of disposing of a Russian freighter that ran aground near its harbor in 1997, sources close to the case said Thursday.

The decision to award the city 35 million yen — the amount demanded — is the first time a Russian court has awarded a Japanese plaintiff redress in such cases, the sources said.

The decision comes as more shipowners worldwide are refusing to pay for the disposal of ships that run aground.

On Aug. 14, 1997, the 480-ton Russian-registered freighter Zolotaya Zvezda collided with the 125-ton Japanese trawler Sanyo Maru No. 10 off Wakkanai harbor and then ran aground, municipal officials said.

The freighter’s owner refused to pay for the disposal of the ship, they said. Two years later, Wakkanai filed a lawsuit seeking compensation at a court of arbitration in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, on the Russian island of Sakhalin.

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