TOKYO — According to media reports and officials, a Russian guy from a Russian-held island claimed by both Tokyo and Moscow is seeking asylum after being discovered in a wetsuit on Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido.
According to Japanese media, the guy was discovered in the village of Shibetsu on Hokkaido’s shore, across from Kunashiri Island, one of four Russian-held islands claimed by both nations. According to Japanese accounts, he swam nearly 20 kilometers (12 miles) to Hokkaido to seek refuge.
According to accounts, the man was wearing a wetsuit when he was discovered by a local neighbor last Thursday. Following an initial inquiry by the police, he is being interrogated by immigration authorities to determine if he is eligible for a temporary landing visa or refugee status, or whether he is subject to repatriation, according to the regional immigration office in Sapporo.
The Russian Embassy in Japan requested an explanation from Japanese authorities on the status of the individual, whom it named as V.-F.V. Nokarde, in a Facebook statement earlier this week.
The four islands, which Japan refers to as the Northern Territories, are claimed by Japan. They were taken by the Soviet Union in the closing days of World Conflict II, and the disagreement has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty that would officially end the war.
Decades of diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement have yielded no concrete achievements.