Tokyo, Nov 20 (EFE).- Tokyo on Monday condemned Yemen’s Houthi rebels for their seizure of a Japan-operated cargo ship, and demanded the release of the 25 crew members held hostage.
The Galaxy Leader was carrying vehicles en route from Turkey to India when it was seized in the southern Red Sea on Sunday afternoon.
The Japanese government “decisively condemns such an act,” said spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno when asked about the incident on Monday at a press conference.
Matsuno assured that Japan is working with relevant countries to ensure the prompt release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew, among which there are no Japanese nationals.
The Houthis on Sunday announced their seizure of the ship, which they claimed belongs to Israel, in a “military operation” that culminated in its diversion to an unspecified Yemeni port controlled by the rebels.
The Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader is operated by Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen (NYK Line), and owned by a British company believed to be linked to Israeli shipping magnate Abraham “Rami” Ungar.
Nippon Yusen said that its crew is made up of 25 Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Filipino, Mexican and Romanian members at the time it was seized.
The Iran-backed Houthis have said the insurgents are treating the crew “in accordance with their Islamic values,” and have warned that “all ships belonging to the Israeli enemy or that deal with it will become legitimate targets.”
The rebels said that they will continue with military operations “against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against the Gaza Strip stops and the heinous crimes that continue until this moment against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank stop.” EFE