Japan on Wednesday asked Russia to swiftly return five fishing boats seized and taken to Kunashiri Island, one of the disputed Russian-held islands off Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.
Japan's Foreign Ministry has lodged a protest with Russia over the issue and asked for the boats and their crew to be returned from a "humanitarian standpoint."
Japan's top government spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said that the boats belong to fishery cooperatives in Nemuro, in eastern Hokkaido, and were stopped and searched by Russian border patrol.
He said they were then taken to a port in Furukamappu, also known as Yuzhno-Kurilsk, on Kunashiri Island, for further investigation.
Japan's Foreign Ministry said that the crew aboard the boats voluntarily disclosed what they were carrying to the Russian guards, with the Russian side saying the boats were seized for the purpose of further inspections.
Tokyo and Moscow have been at odds over the sovereignty of the four Russian-held islands, with the territorial spat preventing the two countries from signing a post-World War II peace treaty and hindering diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is currently in Moscow to hold talks with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a five-day trip.
Motegi, who now heads talks with Russia over the protracted territorial dispute between both countries, said the talks would be aimed at rebooting negotiations towards resolving the decades-old row.
The talks with Lavrov would be the "start of negotiations in earnest to resolve the territorial issue and sign the peace treaty based on the 1956 joint statement," Motegi told a press briefing on the matter ahead of his visit.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will invest 500 million U.S. dollars to support a Chinese green project, its first sovereign-backed financing in China.
The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Low Carbon Energy Transition and Air Quality Improvement Project aims to increase the availability of natural gas to help reduce coal consumption and related emissions in the region surrounding China's capital, the bank said Tuesday in a statement.
The project involves the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Tianjin's Binhai District, covering LNG receiving, storage and re-gasification facilities and an unloading wharf.
Once completed, the project is expected to reduce coal consumption by 11.9 million tonnes per year and help improve air quality by cutting coal combustion-related emissions in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
"The project will support China's efforts to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement, and strengthen and contribute to the global response to the threat of climate change," said AIIB Vice President and Chief Investment Officer D.J. Pandian.
With this project, AIIB can augment its institutional capacity and expertise in LNG infrastructure for similar projects proposed by other members, the statement said.
AIIB, launched in Beijing in October 2014, is a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.
At least four people were killed when a car bomb went off in the countryside of the rebel-held Ras al-Ayn city in northeastern Syria on Wednesday, state news agency SANA and a war monitor reported.
The car exploded in the village of Mabrokeh in the countryside of Ras al-Ayn, which is controlled by the Turkey-backed rebels and Turkish forces, said SANA.
It said the bombing left a number of casualties, without further details.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people were killed in the explosion, which is the latest in a series of bombings targeting areas controlled by the Turkish force and Turkey-backed rebels.
The Observatory said another explosion hit the Tal Abyad area, which is also controlled by Turkey in northern province of Raqqa on the border with Turkey.
It is worth noting that Ras al-Ayn, located in the countryside of the northeastern province of Hasakah, and Tal Abyad are two of several areas stormed recently by the Turkish forces as part of a campaign against the Kurdish militia in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
The Observatory said the Turkey-controlled areas in northern Syria live in a state of lawlessness and chaos.
Last week alone, five car bombs went off in northeastern Syria, and three of them were detonated in Ras al-Ayn, according to the watchdog group.
The Syrian government has repeatedly slammed the Turkish presence on Syrian soil, saying the Turkish troops are forces of occupation.
China hopes the international community, especially relevant major powers, will adopt a cautious and responsible attitude to prevent outer space from becoming a new battlefield, and make joint efforts to maintain its lasting peace and tranquility, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday.
The United States Senate Tuesday approved the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which grants the establishment of Space Force, a new U.S. military branch that will be housed in the Department of the Air Force and led by the chief of space operations.
Geng Shuang said this move further indicates the increasing risks of the tendency to weaponize outer space and make it a battlefield, and China is deeply concerned.
Noting that outer space is the commonwealth of all mankind, Geng said it is the common interest and responsibility of every nation to ensure the peaceful use of outer space, and prevent its weaponization.
He added that the current situation has shown increasing necessities to establish a legal framework related to outer space arms control, which can only be achieved through negotiation.
Representatives from Yemen's government and the Houthis tasked with monitoring a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations met on Wednesday on a ship on the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
An official of the military forces in Hodeidah told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that "representatives of the two-warring sides boarded a ship and jointly participated in a meeting chaired by General Abhijit Goha, head of the UN's mission in Hodeidah."
He said that a delegation of Yemen's government led by Major General Mohammed Aida attended the meeting with another delegation representing the Houthi rebels.
The source pointed out that "Wednesday's meeting is the seventh of its kind and held onboard a UN ship on the Red Sea due to the inability of the government delegation to enter the Houthi-controlled city of Hodeidah."
Another source of the government's delegation told Xinhua anonymously that "the meeting will continue for two days on the UN ship to discuss the second phase of the military redeployment and implementing the ceasefire deal in Hodeidah."
Discussing the opening of humanitarian corridors to deliver food aids to civilians in different war-torn areas of Hodeidah will be included in the meeting, he said.
In October, the United Nations started deploying cease-fire observers in Hodeidah, establishing five observation points near the military contact lines between the two warring parties.
The observation points are manned by liaison officers from both parties in accordance with the cease-fire agreement reached last year in Sweden that also called on both warring sides to move forces away from ports and parts of the strategic city.
However, sporadic exchange of gunfire and artillery shelling continued to rock the strategic port city despite the presence of the cease-fire observers.
As the main Yemeni port city along the coast of the Red Sea, Hodeidah is the key lifeline entry of most Yemen's commercial imports and humanitarian aid.
The grinding war of more than five years has pushed over 20 million people to the verge of starvation.
The Iran-allied Houthis control much of Hodeidah while the Saudi-backed government troops have advanced to its southeastern districts.
The cease-fire deal in Stockholm was seen as the first phase toward achieving a comprehensive political solution to the civil war.