A criminal case is underway against the captain of the Japanese fishing trawler arrested by Russian coastguards on suspicion of border infringement and poaching, Galina Malysheva, director of a television channel on Russia's far-eastern Sakhalin island, t
Noboru Sakashita, 59, had accepted all responsibility for the incident, saying the crew was unaware the boat had moved into Russian waters, Malysheva said. The affair claimed the life of another sailor on board as a Russian coastguard patrol fired warning shots. Negotiations between Russian and Japanese officials had brought freedom for the remaining crewmen, Malysheva added. The captain was expected to remain in custody as the case moved towards a regional court hearing on September 7.
Tomohiko Taniguchi, deputy press secretary at Japan's foreign ministry, said freedom for the sailors was clearly a move in the right direction. It should have come earlier but Japanese authorities welcomed their release. Killings by Japanese police officers claimed the life of less than one individual per year, he said. The shooting by Russia's coastguard had shocked many in Japan but condolences from Russia's leaders led its people to hope a tragic incident would not have negative effects on relations with Russia.