Russia seizes Tottori crab boat

Kyodo News

A crab boat from Sakaiminato, Tottori Prefecture, was seized by Russian authorities in the Sea of Japan at around 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to officials of the prefectural government and the fishery firm that owns the ship.

Ten crew members of the Yoshi Maru No. 38 have been detained, but none of them is injured, the officials said, adding the boat was on its way to Nakhodka port in Russia to undergo an inspection.

Japan is seeking the prompt release of its crew, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Wednesday.

The 122-ton boat was about 480 km north of Sakaiminato when it was seized, the Tottori Prefectural Government said. The Japan Coast Guard said the boat was crabbing off the Noto Peninsula.

Hiyoshi Suisan, a Sakaiminato-based fishery firm that owns the vessel, was informed by a crew member that Russia will inspect their ship.

The ship may have crossed the boundary with Russia after Tuesday’s operation ended and been captured by Russian border security authorities when it tried to re-enter Japanese territorial waters.

Disembarkation row

Japan has canceled humanitarian assistance to four disputed Russian-held islands through the end of March in response to Russia’s demand that Japanese officials on a humanitarian mission Tuesday submit disembarkation cards before setting foot on one of the four islands, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The officials will return to Japan from Kunashiri Island as talks between Japan and Russia have broken down, according to the ministry.

The officials rejected the request to submit disembarkation cards on grounds that it could be viewed as an acknowledgment of Russia’s claim to the islands.

The Japanese officials left Nemuro, Hokkaido, on a chartered vessel with aid materials early Tuesday, and were asked to submit disembarkation cards by the Russian authorities off Kunashiri Island.