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Soviet Minelayer Fires Warning Shots Near Japanese Boat

November 22, 1985

TOKYO (AP) _ A Soviet minelayer fired three warning shots near a Japanese fishing boat that accidentally brushed it in international waters in the strait between Korea and Japan, a Maritime Safety Agency official said today.

No one was injured, and the Japanese vessel quickly moved away, said agency spokesman Keiji Tame.

He said the agency would consult with the Foreign Ministry on whether to file a formal protest about the incident, which occurred Thursday night.

Tame said the shots were fired about 100 feet in front of the bow of the fishing boat, the 8.5-ton Aiko Maru.

He said the boat was anchored about 12 miles northwest of the Japanese island of Iki when its anchor chain became entangled with the anchor chain of the 3,000-ton minelayer.

The Alesha-class minelayer, the Vychegda, was operating alongside a 650- ton, Natya-class Soviet minesweeper, Tame said.

When Capt. Aiji Higuchi of the Aiko Maru and his two crew members tried to free the chains, the boat brushed against the minelayer, the spokesman said. The Soviet vessel fired three shots, and Higuchi quickly cut the anchor chain and moved away.

The fishing boat returned safetly to the port of Izuhara on Tsushima Island between Korea and Japan. Two maritime agency patrol vessels were dispatched to the site and tried to contact the Soviet vessel, which did not answer its radio calls, Tame said.

He said Soviet vessels are often seen in the Tsushima Straits between Korea and Japan, one of the Soviet Far East Fleet’s three main routes to the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea.

The other routes are the Tsugaru Straits, an international waterway between the main Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Honshu, and the Soya Strait between Hokkaido and the Soviet island of Sakhalin.

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