Japan’s foreign ministry said today it was in “direct” contact with Houthi rebels in Yemen after a cargo ship with a 25-man crew owned by an Israeli businessman and chartered by a Japanese shipping group was seized in the Red Sea over the weekend.

“We are in communication with Israel, and in addition to reaching out directly to the Houthis, we are immediately calling on Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and other countries (…) to ask the Houthis to release the ship and its members as soon as possible of its crew,” said Japan’s foreign minister, Yoko Kamikawa.

The Shia Houthi rebelswho control a large part of it war-torn Yemenannounced yesterday that they occupied the Red Sea commercial vessel owned by an Israeli businessman and driven to the Yemeni coast in retaliation for the bombing of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army assured that “it is not an Israeli ship”.

However, according to the maritime security company Ambrey and the specialized website TradeWindsthe load belongs to Ray Car Carriersa British company controlled by the Israeli businessman Abraham Rami Ugar.

The Japanese government earlier today “strongly” condemned its occupation Galaxy Leaderoperated by Japanese shipping group Nippon Yusen (NYK) and was en route to India.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Transport, 25 people of various nationalities are on board the ship, including citizens of Bulgaria, the Philippines, Ukraine, or even Mexico, however, no Japanese citizens.