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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japan Takes Russia to Court

TOKYO -- Japan has filed a complaint with an international maritime court for the release of the 17 crew members of a Japanese fishing boat seized by Russia, Japan's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Tokyo filed the complaint with the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the ministry said in a statement.

A Russian border guard vessel captured the Hoshin Maru 88 with 17 crew members on June 3, and the boat was taken to a port in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the statement said.

The border guard had been investigating the fishing boat over discrepancies between the actual catch and declared amount, it said.

Japan has pressed for the release of the crew, along with another boat, the Tomi Maru No. 53, held since November in accordance with international law, it said.

"Our complaint asks that procedures begin for the rapid release of the seized vessels and crewmen after paying a reasonable fine under the terms" of international law, it said.

Japan will also stress to commercial fishermen that they must operate within the bounds of law to prevent such seizures from recurring, it added.

Russia has seized several Japanese fishing boats over suspected poaching since last year, mainly around the Kuril Islands, which the two countries have been disputing since the end of World War II.