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Japanese diplomat detained in Russia is released, officials say

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Relations between the two countries have plunged since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sean Gallup and Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Getty Images)

TOKYO — A Japanese diplomat detained in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East, on allegations that he obtained classified information has been released and will leave the country by Wednesday out of concerns for his safety, Japanese officials said Tuesday, amid deteriorating relations between the neighbors in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The official, identified by Russia’s Tass news agency as Tatsunori Motoki, was declared persona non grata and given 48 hours to leave, Tass reported Monday.

Citing the Russian Federal Security Service, Tass said the diplomat faced allegations of paying for classified information “about current aspects of Russia’s cooperation with an Asia Pacific country” and the impact of Western sanctions.

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Japanese officials said the diplomat did not engage in illegal activity and condemned Russian officials for detaining the consul for interrogation, calling it a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Takeo Mori, Japan’s vice minister for foreign affairs, summoned Mikhail Galuzin, Russia’s ambassador to Japan, to strongly condemn the action and request a formal apology.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a briefing Tuesday that the Russians carried out a “coercive interrogation” that included blindfolding and physical restraint, calling it “extremely regrettable and unacceptable.” There are no problems with the diplomat’s health, officials said.

“There is absolutely no evidence that there was any engagement in illegal activities as the Russians claim,” Hayashi said.

Relations between Japan and Russia have deteriorated since early this year, when Japan imposed wide-reaching economic sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Ties between the two powers have rarely been smooth, but the move marked a sharp turn away from Japanese efforts at rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin in previous years.

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