Russian National Arrested in Japan Over Illegal Exports; Allegedly Hid Destination of Watercraft, Other Items

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The building that houses Astrade Co. in Chuo Ward, Osaka.

OSAKA — A Russian national was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of illegally exporting to Russia watercraft and an ship engine that could be diverted for military use.

This is the first time an arrest has been made over unauthorized exports to Russia since February 2022, when Russia launched its aggression against Ukraine. Japan has banned the export of ships and other vessels as a sanctions measure against Russia.

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Andrey Sova

The Osaka prefectural police arrested Andrey Sova, 38, from Suita in Osaka Prefecture. Sova is president of the Osaka-based trading company Astrade Co. in Chuo Ward, and was arrested on suspicion of violating the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law.

According to a police announcement, Sova is suspected of exporting a total of 27 items worth about ¥43 million overall, including four watercraft, a marine engine, a trailer truck and a used motorcycle, from Osaka Nanko Port to Russia via South Korea in January 2023 without obtaining the Japanese government’s permission.

The suspect has not confirmed or denied the allegations, saying he will speak after consulting with his lawyer.

Acting on a tip-off, police searched the company and other locations in November 2023, and found documents indicating that Sova had sent watercraft and other items to a company in Vladivostok, Russia. The suspect allegedly concealed the fact that the export destination was Russia in his applications to the customs office.

In line with the United States and Europe, Japan has been enforcing export bans to Russia since March 2022. In addition to ships, Japan has banned the export to Russia of goods that can be used for military purposes, such as high-performance semiconductors and machine tools.

Police are investigating the possibility that the watercraft and other items may have already been converted to military use.