TOKYO (TR) – The Japan Coast Guard on Wednesday revealed that a record number of suspected North Korean boats have washed ashore along the Sea of Japan coast in 2017, reports Fuji News Network (Dec. 13).
According to the agency, 83 wooden vessels likely from North Korea have washed shore in northern Japan so far this year, the largest number since figures began being kept in 2013.
The discoveries have intensified in recent months. Between January and October, the number did not exceed five for any month. However, the figure jumped to 28 in November. Through Wednesday, the number stood at 24 for December.
The vessels are believed to be fishing boats launched from the Communist nation whose engines have become disabled. Water currents and winds send the drifting crafts to the northern coasts of Japan.
Many of the vessels have been found to contain corpses. As reported previously, three bodies were discovered near the shore of the town of Fukaura, Aomori Prefecture on Tuesday. The corpses may have come come from a suspected North Korean vessel that was found earlier in the month.
In a separate case, skeletal remains were found washed ashore by an police officer on patrol at the Nishihama Beach Resort in the town of Yuza, Yamagata Prefecture at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
The estimated age of the person and gender were unknown, police said. Measuring 157 centimeters in length, the body was clothed in blue work clothes and sneakers.
The corpse was entangled with rope, a white buoy and a blue plastic container with hangul characters — the script of the Korean language — which has led police to believe the person is a North Korean national.