EDITORIAL | Mr. Putin, immediately release the ‘Eihomaru’ crew members
The Japanese trawler Number 172 Eihomaru was taken to Russia on May 28, after Russian border guards stopped the fishing boat for inspection off the town of Wakkanai in Hokkaido earlier today.
The ship, which is owned by a Wakkanai cooperative, weighs 160 tonnes and has a capacity of 14 people. He was taken to the port of Korsakov (Otomari) in the southern part of Sakhalin Island.
Russia must liberate the Eihomaru crew members immediately.
Shortly before the capture, Russian authorities fired warning shots, accusing the Eihomaru to operate within Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Authorities said they fired the warning shots because the Eihomaru were trying to escape.
However, the cooperative refutes the claims, citing data on shipping routes, saying: “The Eihomaru did not leave Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
They added that “it was unfair to remove the ship”.
Russia has absolutely no authority to intimidate and remove Japanese fishing vessels operating legitimately in Japan’s EEZ.
On May 26, the Russian ship LOVE collided with the Japanese fishing vessel Daihachi Hokkomaru who fished for crab in the Sea of Okhotsk. the Daihachi Hokkomaru capsized and three of the crew died.
The Japan Transport Safety Board has spoken to the captains of the two ships and is investigating the cause of the accident.
Some believe that the Russian authorities have taken the Eihomaru to be used as a bargaining chip in the collision two days earlier.
In 2006, a 35-year-old Japanese fisherman was fatally shot by the Russian Coast Guard after his boat entered the waters off the Habomai Islands. The captain of the vessel was taken to Kunashiri Island and charged with “violation of territorial waters” and “illegal fishing”.
The captain eventually returned to Japan about six weeks later. But that was after paying a fine of over 2 million JPY (just over 18,000 USD) and having his ship confiscated.
“The shooting site was in Japanese waters. I was forced to lie in court, ”revealed the ship’s captain after returning to Japan.
Following the capture of Eihomaru, the Japanese government lobbied for the speedy return of the crew and trawler. However, Russian media pointed out that the vessel was engaged in illegal fishing because “a large number of crabs were found in the vessel”.
This last incident is sadly reminiscent of that of 2006.
From a diplomatic point of view, Japan was abandoned by the Putin administration in the Northern Territories.
Japan must take stronger action on this issue Eihomaru cases, especially for the benefit of crew members.
(Lily The Sankei Shimbun editorial in Japanese on this link.)
Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun