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Russia frees 24 Japanese pouchers seized near disputed islands

Russia frees 24 Japanese pouchers seized near disputed islands

The Russian court ordered the Japanese crews to pay a fine of $100,000 and let them go on Tuesday.

Five Japanese boats were fishing near a group of disputed Kuril islands last week. They were overtaken by Russian border patrol investigating claims of illegal poaching in Russian waters, confirmed Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in comments on December 18.

A week later, all 24 crewmen and all five boats were released by the Russian court after detaining them for a week for allegedly violating fishing deals near the disputed islands located in Japan’s northern region of Hokkaido.

According to the Russian court’s data, the Japanese crews were accused of exceeding their catch quota for octopus when they were detained last week.

The disputed islands: Japan and Russia cannot agree since 1945

The disputed islands were seized by forces of the former Soviet Union in the final days of World War Two. Japan continues to claim the island chain, which it calls the Northern Territories while Russia calls them the Southern Kuriles.

Last week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova confirmed the overtaking Japanese ships by the Russian patrol.

“Unfortunately, what you say, happened,” said Zakharova and stressed that the Japanese fishermen were being given all necessary food, clothing, and medical aid while in custody.