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Russian man “swam for 23 hours” from Kunashiri to Hokkaido

“It took me 23 hours to swim here. I actually wanted to emigrate to Poland,” said V.-F.V. Nokarde in an interview with Hokkaido Broadcasting Co. (HBC) on Sept. 8.


Nokarde is the 38-year-old Russian man who is said to have swum from Kunashiri Island in the Northern Territories and arrived in Shibetsu Town in eastern Hokkaido on Aug. 19. He is currently being detained at the Sapporo Regional Immigration Services Bureau and agreed to an interview with HBC on Sept. 8.


“I swam over in a wetsuit. It took 23 hours,” Nokarde said.


According to Nokarde, he left the southern part of Kunashiri Island at around 5:00 a.m. on Aug. 18 (JST) and arrived at around 4:00 a.m. the next day on the coast of Shibetsu Town. Kunashiri and Shibetsu are about 25 kilometers apart.


“I knew the strait has sharks and orca, so I was scared. It was very exhausting,” said Nokarde.


Asked why he swam over, he replied: “For a long time, I have wanted to leave Russia. My passports were stolen, and Japan was my only option. I actually wanted to emigrate to Poland.”


Nokarde has asked the Japanese government “not to send [him] back to Russia.”

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