Russia took control of the islands off the north of Hokkaido after the Second World War II [File: AP Photo]

Japan‘s foreign ministry demanded the release on Wednesday of the crew of five fishing boats detained by Russia, saying the men had been doing nothing wrong and should be released quickly on humanitarian grounds.

The Japanese were seized by border guards from Russia near disputed islands north of Hokkaido that are held by Russia and claimed by Japan, as Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was visiting Russia.

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The ships were fishing for octopus near the four islands – known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan – when they were taken by Russian ships for “investigations” on suspicion

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