Ja­pan in­spects drift­ing boat car­ry­ing 10 North Kore­ans

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

JA­PANESE au­thor­i­ties on Thurs­day in­spected a de­crepit boat with 10 men aboard iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves as North Kore­ans drift­ing in rough seas off the north­ern is­land of Hokkaido.

Coast guard of­fi­cials said they boarded the wooden boat and started in­spec­tion af­ter tow­ing it to a safer area. Of­fi­cials spot­ted the boat off the western coast of Mat­sumae town Tues­day but rough seas pre­vented them from ap­proach­ing it.

The coast guard said the men ear­lier com­mu­ni­cated in Korean via loud speak­ers and a mes­sage board say­ing they were from North Korea and tak­ing refuge at a nearby is­land due to rough weather. It was not im­me­di­ately known whether the boat was in­volved in il­le­gal fish­ing in­side Ja­pan’s 200-nau­ti­cal mile ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone.

Of­fi­cials said they were linked to a re­ported cam­paign by the North to send fish­er­men far­ther out for more catches.

It’s un­clear if peo­ple aboard those boats that drift near Ja­panese shores each year in­tend to de­fect or are sim­ply un­able to make their way back in un­sea­wor­thy wooden ves­sels.

In Akita on Mon­day, of­fi­cials found eight bod­ies in­side a ragged wooden boat be­lieved to be from North Korea af­ter it washed up on the beach. Last week, a group of eight men who say they are from North Korea washed ashore and are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. Au­thor­i­ties said they were not asy­lum seek­ers and had ex­pressed wish to re­turn home.

Photo: Kyodo via AP

a wooden boat is seen off Mat­sumae town, Hokkaido north­ern Ja­pan, Novem­ber 29.

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