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Russia Releases Japanese Whaling Ship

A Japanese whaling vessel held by Russia in the Far East for four days for violating the border has been released.

The Russian border guard service said the "Shonan Maru-2" was detained in the Sea of Okhotsk on August 15 after sailing in Russian waters near the Kamchatka peninsula.

Japan's state fishery agency said the vessel crossed the Russian maritime border by mistake.

The ship, which does not catch whales, was said to have been conducting a "visual check" of whales in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Ties between Russia and Japan have soured as Tokyo has joined Western allies in imposing sanctions on Russia after its annexation of Crimea.

Tokyo and Moscow also remain embroiled in a dispute over four small islands Soviet forces seized from Japan at the end of World War II.

Based on reporting by Interfax and dpa