Russia Fires on Japanese Fishing Boat Captured Vessel Taken in Disputed Territorial Waters

Article excerpt

TOKYO -- Russia's coast guard fired on a Japanese fishing boat within Japan's northern waters yesterday and then brought the boat back into Russian waters, government officials in Tokyo said.

No one was hurt in the shooting, which Japan said happened about 150 miles south of a group of disputed islands seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II. Both sides claim historical ownership of the islands, which Tokyo calls the Northern Territories.

In Moscow, the ITAR-Tass news agency said a Russian patrol boat came across a fishing boat in Russian territorial waters with its name and number concealed. It was unclear where the Russian pursuit began.

The boat tried to escape and avoid inspection, ITAR-Tass said. "The intruder was shelled by the Russian border guards when it attempted to escape from the Russian economic zone into neutral waters," the Pacific region border-guards press center was quoted as saying.

According to the Interfax news agency, the Russian border guards pursued the fishing boat into Japan's economic zone.

Yuko Kumagai, a spokeswoman for the Japan coast guard, said the mast and dining room area of the Japanese fishing boat, called the No. 7 Daitokumaru, were hit.

None of 20 crew members aboard the boat, which belongs to Nitta fishing company, were hurt in the shooting, according to an initial report from the boat. …