Japan protests to Russia over detention of interpreter | News | DW | 22.08.2016
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Japan protests to Russia over detention of interpreter

Tokyo has protested Russia's detention of a Japanese citizen during the visit to a disputed island. Russia and Japan both claim the Kuril Islands, a conflict that's lasted more than 70 years.

Japan has protested to Moscow over the detention of a Japanese man visiting Kunashir island during a visa-free visit that's been allowed since 1992.

The unnamed man, who was working as a translator for a tour group, was reportedly detained Sunday following baggage checks conducted ahead of his scheduled departure, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. The rest of the Japanese tour group was allowed to depart without incident.

A long-running dispute

Ties have been strained since at least the end of World War II over the islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as part of the Kuril Islands. In fact, the dispute over these islands is the main stumbling block to Japan and Russia formally signing a peace treaty to end wartime hostilities.

Russia has not commented on the diplomatic protest. But its customs service posted on its website Monday that "money was found" during a customs check of a Japanese citizen's luggage. The value of currency seized was about $40,000 (35,400 euros), it said.

Russian law requires cash in excess of $10,000 be declared before attempting to leave the country.

Russland Japan Wladimir Putin und Shinzo Abe Rede

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok in early September, Japan's Kyodo News agency reported.

Diplomacy has restarted

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in May to restart negotiations aimed at resolving the territorial dispute.

Chikahito Harada, Japan's special envoy for Japan-Russia relations and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov are slated to hold their second round of talks Friday in Moscow.

Japanese media have recently reported that Abe and Putin will hold talks early next month in the Russian city of Vladivostok. There has been formal announcement.

jar/ (AP, AFP)