Thursday, August 17, 2006

Kuriles Incident

From RFE/RL's Newsline (August 16):


A Russian patrol boat on August 16 fired on the Japanese fishing schooner "Kisshin Maru No. 31" near Kaigara Island in the southern Kuriles, which are held by Russia but claimed by Japan, and Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 14, 2005, and February 22, March 23, and August 3, 2006). One fisherman died in the gunfire, the first fatality since October 1956 in an area where maritime incidents are otherwise common. Russian officials took the Japanese ship, the remaining three crew members, and the body of the dead fisherman to Yuzhno-Kurilsk, Interfax reported. The Military Prosecutor's Office in Sakhalin is investigating the incident, in which Russian officials claim that the "Kisshin Maru" ignored repeated warnings to stop. The Japanese authorities are also investigating. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has lodged a protest with the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, calling the killing "totally unacceptable" and demanding compensation and the repatriation of the crew. The Russians rejected the claim on the grounds that the schooner had violated Russian territorial waters, RIA Novosti reported. Russian officials said that the crew lacked documents or other identification, and that the ship carried a large quantity of illegally caught crab and octopus. The Russian authorities will file criminal charges against the Japanese captain for illegal entry into Russian waters. PM
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