Japan has demanded an apology from Russia after its diplomat was blindfolded and physically restrained during interrogation and accused of being a spy, deepening a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Tatsunori Motoki, who worked at the Japanese Consulate General, was detained in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East, for obtaining classified information about Russia, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said.
On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry informed the Japanese Embassy in Moscow that the official had been declared a “persona non grata”, or undesirable person, on the grounds that he was carrying out illegal espionage activities and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.
According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), he was arrested when he received classified information on “Russia’s cooperation with an Asia-Pacific country” and the impacts of the sanctions policy of the West on the economic situation of the maritime territory. It was alleged he was caught paying money for it, Tass news agency reported.
Japan filed a formal protest with Russia on Tuesday and dismissed the spying allegations against it.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry said the diplomat was arrested on September 22 and questioned with his eyes covered, his hands and head pressed and immobilized.
“The alleged illegal activity insisted on by the Russian side is completely unfounded,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
Matsuno said Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori had summoned Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin to demand a formal apology from the Russian government and action to prevent the incident from escalating. reproduce.
Describing Russian authorities’ treatment of the consulate official as “intimidating” during interrogation, he said such treatment of consular officials violates the Vienna Convention and a Japan-Russo treaty on consular affairs. “This is extremely regrettable and absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Matsuno said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said: “There is absolutely no evidence that there was any engagement in illegal activities as alleged by the Russians.”
The Tass news agency reported that the official confessed to breaking Russian laws and was caught red-handed on camera in a restaurant.
The incident marks another blow to Japanese-Russian relations which have soured since Tokyo joined the West in slapping Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine.
In response to the sanctions, the Kremlin has repeatedly labeled Japan a “hostile” country, a designation it has also given to the United States and EU countries and their allies.
The Japanese government banned the export of materials that could be used for chemical weapons to 21 Russian entities during the latest sanctions on Monday.
The Independent Gt