SHIMANE (TR) – A fishing boat and four male crew members possibly from North Korea have been found on the shore of the island of Okinoshima, police said on Tuesday, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Jan. 8).
At just past 9:00 a.m., a local resident tipped off police about finding the craft — measuring 9.3 meters long and 2.4 meters wide — along the coast in the Kurata area.
According to police, the four men, believed to be aged between their teens and 30s, were found near the boat. Though police were unable to identify them, they all speak Korean and claim to be from North Korea.
The sailors said the boat had been drifting after an engine problem on December 6. They added that they had not eaten in 10 days.
The craft contained ropes and drinking cups. Numbers were painted onto the side of the hull, but they were not readable since they had faded, police said.
According to the Japan Coast Guard, more than 200 suspected North Korean vessels washed ashore on the coasts of Japan in 2018. The year before, the figure was 104.