Japan has joined western countries in imposing trade sanctions on Moscow
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Russia’s internal security service has detained an employee of the Japanese consulate in Russia’s eastern port city of Vladivostok on suspicion of spying, the Russian government said on Monday.
A statement released by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said that the man in question, identified as the consulate general in Vladivostok, Motoki Tatsunori, had been given “classified information” about Russia’s work with another Asian country.
“A Japanese diplomat was detained red-handed while receiving classified information, in exchange for money, about Russia’s co-operation with another country in the Asia-Pacific region,” the FSB said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.
Russia’s armed forces have increased co-operation with Japan’s rival China in recent years, holding a number of large-scale military and naval exercises in the Pacific region.
Mr Tatsunori had also been soliciting information about “the impact of western sanctions” on the eastern Primorsky region, news agencies quoted the FSB as saying.
Moscow considers Japan to be a “hostile” country, a designation it shares with the European Union, the US, the UK and Australia.
The diplomat was declared persona non grata by the Russians, which removes his diplomatic immunity.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement the diplomat had been ordered to leave the country within 48 hours.
The FSB said it had lodged a protest with Tokyo through diplomatic channels, news agencies reported.
The security organisation also distributed a short video it said showed the diplomat acknowledging that he had violated Russian law.
Japan’s top government spokesman Matsuno said Russia took the consul into custody in an “intimidating manner”, blindfolding and restraining him, which was “a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”.
“The detained consul was not engaging in any illegal activity,” Matsuno said.
Demands for apology
He said the Japanese deputy foreign minister told the Russian ambassador to Japan that Tokyo “needs to take equivalent steps” and demanded a formal apology from Moscow.
Moscow and Tokyo have traded tit-for-tat sanctions and expulsions of diplomats since February 24 when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Tokyo had complex relations with Moscow before the Ukrainian invasion and the two sides have yet to sign a post-Second World War peace treaty.
Attempts to do so have been hampered by a long-running dispute over the Kuril Islands, currently controlled by Russia.
Updated: September 27, 2022, 3:39 AM