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Coronavirus likely cause of drop in North Korean boats drifting onto Japan’s shores

TOKYO (TR) – The novel coronavirus pandemic is likely causing a drop in the number of suspected North Korean boats found drifting ashore in Japan, reports Kyodo News (April 15).

On Thursday, the Japan Coast Guard said that the number of such crafts found between last October and March totaled just 14, a drop of about 90 percent from the 141 recorded over the same period one year ago.

Currents regularly wash wooden North Korean fishing boats onto Japan’s shores along the Sea of Japan after they become disabled.

A wooden boat likely from North Korea was found beached in Aomori Prefecture in November 2019

Yusuke Fukuyama, a professor at Hokuriku University in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, says the recent trend is likely due to the pandemic.

“It seems that North Korea, which is taking strict measures along its borders against the coronavirus, is refraining from illegal [fishing] operations in the Sea of Japan,” said Fukuyama.

The number of boats found in Japan reached a peak two years ago, when the figure was 219.