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Russia expects Japan to end poaching in its waters

Russia's foreign minister said Monday he hoped Japan would fulfill its pledges, and take effective action to put an end to poaching in Russian territorial waters.

A row broke out August 16 between Moscow and Tokyo after Russian border guards shot dead a Japanese crewmember on a vessel near the Kuril Islands. Russian officials said the vessel was suspected of illegally fishing for valuable crab in Russian territorial waters and that border guards had fired warning shots only after it refused to stop.

Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russia's position on the incident in a phone conversation with his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso.

"The captain of the Japanese fishing vessel, who severely violated Russian laws, had been fishing illegally in Russia's territorial waters, and ignored relevant demands of border guards, was responsible for the tragic event," he said.


A criminal case was launched against Sakashita Noboru, the vessel's captain, on August 17.

Tatiana Kutuzova, an aide to the prosecutor in the Russian Far East region of Sakhalin, said Noboru would stay in Russia until the end of trial.

She also said the two other members of the vessel's crew were accused of violating the administrative border, and that the vessel was currently under arrest.

Japan protested the death 35-year-old Mitsujiro Morita. Russia said it regretted the incident but added that responsibility also rested with Japanese authorities for failing to address the poaching problem after Moscow had repeatedly highlighted it.

Lavrov highlighted frequent violations of Russia's territorial waters by Japanese fishing vessels and said he hoped effective measures would be taken to combat poaching.

A total of 30 fishing boats and 210 Japanese crewmembers were seized by Russia in the disputed waters between 1994 and 2005. Seven fishermen were injured when Russian patrolmen fired on them.

© RIA Novosti

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