Russian and Japanese patrol ships to conduct joint exercise in Japanese waters

Russian and Japanese patrol ships are to conduct their joint exercise near Hokkaido island. "Intruding" ships will be detained during the exercise; moreover, the concerned parties will be "intercepting" arms smugglers and drugs. This was disclosed over the phone on May 28th by officials at the first regional headquarters of Japan's coast-guard department in Otaru.

This exercise is to involve Russia's Sokol (Falcon) coast-guard ship serving with the Nakhodka detachment, as well as the Korsakov patrol ship from the Sakhalin force, HQ people said.

Russian patrol ships have never sailed to Hokkaido before. The exercise will take place over the June 2-6 period.

The Japanese side will contribute its four patrol ships, i.e. the Soya, the Shiretoko, Saroma and Suzukaze, as well as two coast-guard planes.

The forthcoming exercise is called on to promote cooperation between Japanese and Russian border guards, a spokesman for the Otaru coast-guard HQ stressed. Apart from that, Russian border guards are to meet top officials in charge of the Hokkaido coast-guard service, as well as Otaru-port authorities and municipal authorities, as well. Arm-wrestling and tug-of-war competitions are also scheduled to take place.

Russia and Japan started exchanging patrol-ship visits three years ago. Japanese ships called at Vladivostok in 2001, visiting Sakhalin Island last year. Meanwhile Russian ships visited Tokyo port twice over the same time period.

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