Japan on Sunday condemned the seizure of the cargo ship seized by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen in the Red Sea, saying that a Japanese company was operating the ship.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu said that the cargo ship belonged to Nippon Yusen (NYK Line) and that they "strongly condemn the seizure".
Stating that there were no Japanese citizens on board the cargo ship, Matsuno stated that they are continuing to work with the relevant countries for the safety and release of the ship and its crew.
Saito Tetsuo, Japan's Minister of Transport, Infrastructure, Land and Tourism, added that they are in contact with the relevant organizations and the Japanese company to resolve the situation.
Tokyo-based NYK Line stressed in a statement that the cargo ship "Galaxy Leader" was seized near the coast of Hodeidah and that there were no Israeli citizens on board.
The cargo ship, which was not carrying cargo at the time of the seizure, had 25 crew members from Bulgaria, Ukraine, the Philippines, Mexico, and Romania, the statement said.
Adding that the cargo ship was "used for vehicle transport", the company said they were trying to confirm the safety of the crew.
Kyodo news agency's report originating from Israel stated that the ship set sail from Turkiye and planned to cross the Suez Canal to reach an Indian port.
According to a report in Israel's Walla newspaper at the weekend, based on an unnamed source, it was claimed that an Israeli company was among the partners of the ship.
In a statement by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen, which was reflected in the Japanese national press, it was noted that Houthi forces had taken the cargo ship to Yemen.
Earlier on Sunday, the Houthis, backed by Israel's arch-foe Iran, declared their intention to target any ships flying the Israeli flag or owned/operated by Israeli companies.
In their statement, they called on countries to evacuate their citizens from such vessels and advised against using them to transport goods. They also urged nations to notify these ships to steer clear of their ports.
The vessel, known as the Galaxy Leader, was transporting automobiles from Turkiye and was intercepted in the southern Red Sea while en route to India. It is registered under the Bahamian flag and identifies Nassau as its home port.
The Houthis declared their intention to target any ships flying the Israeli flag or owned/operated by Israeli companies.