NIIGATA (TR) – Authorities in Niigata and Akita prefectures reported finding three bodies believed to belong to North Korean nationals on the coast of the Sea of Japan on Monday and Tuesday. The discoveries are a continuation of what has become an intensifying trend.
At just before 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, a staff member at Niigata Airport in Niigata City reported the discovery of boat floating about one kilometer from shore, according to a coast guard office, reports NHK (Dec. 5).
According to the office, the vessel washed up against a wave-dissipating concrete blocks, the impact of which damaged its frame and dislodged two corpses. Due to poor weather, the bodies have not yet been retrieved.
The exterior of the boat, measuring 10 meters in length, contained seven hangul characters, which is the script of the Korean language, according to the office. Plans to resume the recovery of the bodies are underway.
Later that morning, another wooden vessel was found at the mouth of a river in the Ishina area of Sado City, according to NHK (Dec. 4). There were no bodies found in the area, according to the office.
Another discovery took place the day before. At 8:30 a.m., a skeletal corpse and a wooden piece of vessel were found on the shore of the Konoura area of Nikaho City, Akita, police said. Among the debris were cans and packages with hangul script.
Increase in bodies discovered
Water currents and winds regularly direct disabled boats from North Korea toward the northern coasts of Japan. However, the discovery of bodies on shorelines has been increasing. In November, authorities reported finding 28 bodies aboard vessels or on shores, a significant increase over the four corpses found in the same month last year.
While the number of bodies found is on the rise, the number of shipwrecks is not. In 2013, there were 80 boats from North Korea found washed ashore in Japan. Between 2014 and 2016, the figure was between 45 and 66. Through December 4 of this year, the number stood at 64.