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Russia blames Japanese for fisherman's death
Latest Updated by 2006-08-17 10:38:07
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Russia expressed deep regret over the death of a Japanese fisherman on Wednesday but laid the responsibility at Japan's door, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian border guards fired on a Japanese fishing boat and seized it near Russia's Tanfilyev Island of the disputed Kuril Chain Wednesday morning, resulting in the death of one of the four fishermen on board.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it "expresses deep regret over the death of one of the Japanese fishing boat's crew members" during its detention in Russian territorial waters.

But, the statement added that Russia has repeatedly warned Japan regarding its fish poaching in Russia's territorial waters.

"Unfortunately, those warnings were ignored. It is obvious that the responsibility for the incident should be born by the real culprits and the Japanese officials who connive in poaching in Russian territorial waters," the statement said.

The dead fisherman was found to have been shot in the head, and the boat and three other fishermen had been detained, said a spokesman for the Sakhalin coast guard department of the Russian Federal Security Service.

The Japanese schooner was stopped after a long pursuit, during which the boat had not responded to the Russian coast guards' radio and light signals. The coast guards first fired warning shots before actually firing on the vessel using a Kalashnikov submachine gun. The boat had been escorted to Yuzhno-Kurilsk port for further investigation, the spokesman added.

According to Russian senators, the actions by Russia's border guards who were trying to stop the Japanese boat in Russian territorial waters were "absolutely justified".

"Guards should protect our borders and national interests, so in this case they were acting in full conformity to their duties and rights," said Igor Pushkaryov, who represents the Legislative Assembly of the Maritime Territory. He also expressed regret over the death of the Japanese fisherman.

The local garrison has launched an inquiry into the use of firearms by the border guards.

According to Kyodo News, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official had handed a protest letter to the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, demanding the immediate release of the three other fishermen.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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