ISHIKAWA (TR) – Law enforcement and maritime security officials have confirmed the discovery of more than two dozen bodies aboard vessels drifting in the Sea of Japan over the past two months, reports NHK (Nov. 25).
In October and November, authorities have found 25 bodies inside 11 wooden vessels floating off the coast off five prefectures, extending from Fukui to Hokkaido.
The Japan Coast Guard suspects that the vessels originated from North Korea. Since 2013, at least 175 boats have drifted from the Korean peninsula to Japan. Of the sailors who managed to be rescued by coast guard personnel, some indicated that they were fishermen from North Korea.
Satoru Miyamoto, a professor at Seigakuin University, says that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seeking to achieve self-sufficiency for the food supply.
“North Korea may be dedicating a large number of boats amid a push to boost its fisheries business,” one expert tells NHK, “but with these repeated instances of trouble it is clear that they lack sufficient equipment, such as radar and GPS devices, to navigate in extremely harsh weather.”
On Sunday, three bodies were discovered after divers boarded a nine-meter-long wooden vessel found floating about 110 kilometers north-northwest of the town of Echizen in Fukui Prefecture. The sex and nationality of the bodies are unknown.
Two days before, two wooden boats were found capsized off Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture. A total of 10 bodies and fishing nets were later discovered inside the vessels. A third boat was found abandoned in nearby waters. Korean lettering on the hull of the third boat read, “The Korean People’s Army No. 325.”