Japan demands apology from Russia after diplomat was blindfolded and questioned


Japan is demanding an official apology from Russia after Federal Security Service (FSB) agents allegedly blindfolded and interrogated a Japanese diplomat, before giving him 48 hours to leave the country.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Vladivostok-based Japanese consul Motoki Tatsunori was arrested and questioned by Russian agents on Monday for alleged espionage.

« The consular officer was taken in a state of immobility, blindfolded from start to finish, hands and head bowed, and subjected to intimidating interrogation, » Hayashi said at a press conference on Tuesday. .

Tatsunori was detained and declared « persona non grata » by the Russian Foreign Ministry, according to Russian news agencies.

Hayashi condemned Tatsunori’s detention in the Russian far eastern city, saying it was « extremely regrettable and unacceptable » and that there was « absolutely no evidence of illegal activities as claimed the Russian side ».

Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori summoned Russian Ambassador Mikhail Galuzin and lodged a formal protest, demanding an official apology, Hayashi said.

The Japanese government would also take « appropriate measures », he added.

Tensions between Tokyo and Moscow have risen, fueled by Japan’s support for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion and the dispute between Japan and Russia over sovereignty of islands north of Japan that were captured by Soviet forces after the surrender of Japan to Allied forces at the end of World War II.

Tatsunori was working at the Japanese Consulate General in the Russian city of Vladivostok, a major trading port bordering China and North Korea, when he was accused by Russia of « receiving classified information ».

« A Japanese diplomat was arrested red-handed while receiving classified information in exchange for money, on Russia’s cooperation with another country in the Asia-Pacific region, » the FSB said in a released statement. by Russian news agencies.

« The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation in the Primorsky Territory terminated the espionage action of Motoki Tatsunori, Consul of the Consulate General of Japan in Vladivostok, » the report added.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Tatsunori was no longer in custody and would leave Russia on Wednesday, for his own safety.

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