Photo: SoraNews24

Russian man who swam to Japan was reportedly kicked out of Japan in 2011 for visa violation

By SoraNews24

About a week ago news broke about a mysterious man claiming to be a Russian who swam to the eastern Hokkaido town of Shibetsu in hopes of seeking asylum. Although the Sapporo Regional Immigration Services Bureau who are handling the case still haven’t revealed any details, Russian media believe they have identified the man as 38-year-old Vaas Feniks Nokard.

According to The Moscow Times, Nokard was previously deported from Japan in 2011 because he violated the conditions of his visa. He apparently was ejected from Thailand and Bali for similar reasons.

Before making this year’s fateful journey, Nokard lived in the Russian controlled disputed island of Kunashir for three years, having moved there from the Izhevsk, a city about 1,000 kilometers east of Moscow. He had taken part in a Russian government program offering a hectare of free land to anyone willing to move the far east and help develop the sparsely populated area. However, upon arriving in the village of Golovino, Nokard reportedly did very little, adopting a drifter lifestyle of sleeping in tents and homes of anyone willing to take him in. As time went by, he seemed to have tired of this and made his run for the border that lies in the middle of a 20-kilometer stretch of ocean.

▼ The southwestern-most tip of Kunashir would provide the shortest swim


It still hasn’t been confirmed that Nokard actually made the entire swim by himself, but as more details emerge it’s beginning to seem like he did. The Moscow Times also reported that he contacted a friend of his on Kunashir, asking them to pick up a motorcycle he left on the coast so they could sell it and send him the money. Meanwhile, Hokkaido Shimbun reported that a friend who taught Nokard Japanese in Kunashir said he wanted to visit Japan very much but couldn’t because of his visa problems.

There actually are ways for residents of the disputed islands to visit Japan without a visa, which makes his method of entry that much stranger. Perhaps Nokard was ineligible for those too, or simply was unaware of them.

There is speculation that he wore a wetsuit which he removed upon reaching Japan. At about 8 a.m. on 19 August he was spotted on a surveillance camera wearing a blue outfit. Then he entered a store and bought a different set of clothes along with a backpack at about 1:30 in the afternoon. He was turned in to police later that evening.

▼ News report showing the man dressed in blue

When news of the man’s arrival first broke, netizens were worried that something bad might be transpiring in Russia and that the situation seemed like the beginning of a disaster movie. While this now appears to be far from the case, our refugee of wanderlust has certainly swum into a diplomatic hornets’ nest.

The fact that he is trying to defect from a disputed territory is making matters particularly delicate. If Japan were to accept his claim, they could potentially also be recognizing that the island is a part of Russia in the process. The dispute over the island chain which Kunashir belongs to has been going on since the end of WWII, and is the reason that no peace treaty has ever been signed between the two countries since then.

It will probably take quite some time for Japan to figure out how to handle this unique case.

Source: The Moscow Times, Novaya Gazeta, Hokkaido Shimbun

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Film about Japanese-Russian POW romance gets crowdfunding project for screening in Russia

-- Absurd anti-prostitution proposal in Russia gets Japanese commenters’ tongues wagging

-- Man claiming to be Russian who swam to Japan seeking asylum appears in Hokkaido town

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

The dude is quite a character - tireless traveller. Was kicked out of Bali as well and I read from one other S-E Asian country too. If all that is a cover-up for a spy, it’s .. too much.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"If Japan were to accept his claim, they could potentially also be recognizing that the island is a part of Russia in the process. "

What sort of twisted "logic" is this?!

He's a Russian national, NOT a Kunashir national.

It that was the case, then no Russian (even one who swims all the way from Moscow) could ever be given asylum in Japan under pain of "recognizing that the island is a part of Russia in the process."

3 ( +8 / -5 )

The dude sounds crazy but hats off to him. They guy is either very dumb or very smart. Japan can't deport him because they lay claim to the "disputed zone". Lol.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Japan has never subscribed to any kind of “Catch & Release” policy. Perhaps he should be thankful he wasn’t ‘mistaken’ for another man,mal. From the article:

“It will probably take quite some time for Japan to figure out how to handle this unique case.” -

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

As someone’s stated, on a variety of issues, Japan is completely ineffectual in dealing with policy issues in a timely manner. From the article:

It will probably take quite some time for Japan to figure out how to handle this unique case.” -

or, more precisely, in Their daily observation: “*PATHETIC**”*. (Just reposting what reads as ‘appropriate commentary’.)

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Still a bum who got kicked out of several countries for not willing to work and only wander around. Pretty sure that is already a red flag for potential crime being committed in order to feed himself.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Nice try, tovarishch! But you just jumped the shark into Japan's net for asylum seekers and assorted foreigners.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What a world class international bum. lol

Still, if he actually swam across from Kunashiri Island and calculated in advance the peculiar diplomatic situation that this would create, I gotta give him some credit there.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

there is mistake in text

Nokard lived in the Russian controlled disputed island of Kunashir for three yearsreality is that Nokard lived in Kunashir/part of Russia/,just check world map and ammend your mistyping.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If he's that determined and that good a swimmer, reward him with a visa and give him a job teaching marathon swimming.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

He has to have some serious endurance to be able to swim that distance!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Not much thinking ability apparently.

If only the authorities could make him swim back to Russia.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Most likely he came in a kayak, canoe, or inflatable or had someone else drop him off near the shore.

From his record, he is obviously an undesirable shirker, and the swim story a ploy to garner sympathy.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Seems like a freeloader or moocher who moves around when he is no longer welcome!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The guy braved freezing water, strong currents and sharks to reach his Japanese GF. Let him stay!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

He’s a vagabond! A drifter who will be a parasite.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Give him Japanese nationality or at the least a residence card ( like other swimming mammals have been given in Japan) and he will win a gold medal in the next Olympics!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just another opportunistic fake asylum seeker..

Send him back to his mother Russia..

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I wont believe the Russian media's story without even hearing what the man has to say and corroboration from other sources if it exists. I know that the Russian media is heavily biased and incessantly reports the lies propagated by the Russian government. They are both willing and unwilling mouthpieces for Putin and his thugs.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

He's a folk hero. I don't think he was seeking asylum but just wanted to visit as a tourist.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

That is quite a long swim

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am impressed. Not everyone can adopt the cheap black suit, 9-5 horror lifestyle.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


We should give him permission to stay in Japan, expressing "HE IS FROM ONE OF FOUR JAPANESE ISLANDS, ALL OF WHICH BELONG TO JAPAN”.

"GOOD JOB, Nokard-san!!"


★あっぱれ、Nokardさん !!!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

FreddieStarToday  01:57 pm JST


Nonsense. Where he came from is irrelevant. He entered the country illegally and if he is not proved to be spying then he should be deported to his home country. If he is proved to be spying then he should be arrested and charged and serve whatever sentence he is given and then deported. In this case he is unlikely to be a spy so should be put on the next flight to Moscow.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That is absolutely not a Russian name

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This story is hilarious. Lol. I'm sure he had some sort of flotation device, but still got to give the guy some credit for braving the cold water, currents, and whatever sea predators. Japan is going to send him back. Nice try, buddy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When he was deported last time in 2011, for visa violations, is there any time renter restrictions? would this be classed as a new entry application? could he be kicked out again just on his old violations? this is going to be very interesting to see what happen to him, may be Mr Putin wont do anything as it may be to his politicle advantage, but if it goes sour, and hes returned, the salt mines in sybiria dont seam to very welcoming.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Vaas Feniks Nokard" - seriously? A middle name that translates as "phoenix" and a surname that looks suspuciously like the word for "dragon" spelled backwards? Also, "Vaas" does not look like a typical Russian name either.

This gotta be a joke, right?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites