Japan yesterday said it was “directly approaching” Yemeni Houthi rebels after they seized a ship owned by an Israeli businessman and operated by a Japanese firm with about 25 crew on board.
Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoko Kamikawa said Tokyo was “communicating with Israel, and in addition to directly approaching the Houthis, we are also urging Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and other countries concerned to strongly urge the Houthis for the early release of the vessel and crew members.”
“Our government will continue to take necessary measures in cooperation with the countries concerned, while taking into account the situation,” she said.
Photo: Owen Foley via Reuters
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the rebels had seized “an Israeli ship” on Sunday in the Red Sea and rerouted it to Yemen’s coast.
The announcement came days after the group threatened to target Israeli vessels in the waterway over Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the vessel was owned by a British company and operated by a Japanese firm.
Nippon Yusen, also known as NYK Line of Japan, said that it operated the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader.
“We were notified from Galaxy Maritime in the UK ... that Galaxy Leader, a car carrier we charter from the company, had been captured” while sailing near the coast of Hodeida.
It said it had set up a task team to gather information and to ensure the safety of the crew.
Maritime security company Ambrey said that the owner was listed as Ray Car Carriers, whose parent company belongs to Abraham “Rami” Ungar, an Israeli businessman.
Houthi “forces will continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against Gaza stops and the ugly crimes ... against our Palestinian brothers in Gaza and the West Bank stop,” Saree said.
Israel said the vehicle transportation ship was traveling between Turkey and India, and that the 25-person crew included Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and Mexicans, but no Israelis.
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