A Russian crew member has been arrested in connection with the death of three Japanese fishermen following a collision between two vessels off Hokkaido late last month, an incident that ratcheted up tensions between the two countries.
The arrest was announced by Japanese officials yesterday.
A 662-tonne Russian ship was headed toward Monbetsu when it collided with the much-smaller Japanese vessel. The former was carrying seafood to Monbetsu from Sakhalin, a Russian island.
Reports suggest that the area was covered in a blanket of thick fog at that time. The crew on the 9.7-tonne Japanese boat was catching crabs at the time of the collision around 6 a.m.
Three local fishermen were killed while two others were slightly injured. The three men were Shunsuke Konno, 39, Masatoshi Inoue, 37, both deckhands, and Masayoshi Numahata, 64, chief engineer.
Russia claims that the vessel was in its economic zone, while Tokyo maintains that the boat, which belonged to a Monbetsu-based fishery cooperative, had not strayed from Japanese waters.
Russian officials in a statement said the Japanese ship had not sent a warning signal amid low visibility owing to the fog. A fog advisory had been issued for waters off Monbetsu port.
On June 2, the Asahikawa District Court had seized the Russian vessel as part of compensation, owing to the request of representatives for the Hokko Maru.