TOKYO (TR) – The number of wooden boats likely from North Korea that have been found along the nation’s northern shores this year is nearly double the figure for all of 2017, coast guard officials said on Wednesday, reports Fuji News Network (Dec. 12).
According to the Japan Coast Guard, a total of 201 suspected North Korean vessels had washed ashore through Tuesday. For all of last year, the figure was 104. In 2016, it was 38.
“Since October, there have been many days when the the Sea of Japan was rough,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said last month in explaining the increase this year.
Water currents and winds regularly send ships whose engines have become disabled to the northern coasts of Japan.
In a number of recent cases, unmanned vessels were found on the coasts of Aomori and Hokkaido prefectures. No persons were discovered in the vicinity of the vessels. As well, hangul writing, which is the script of the Korean language, was found on the bows.
In recent months, the cost of disposing the vessels has been raised as a concern. The cost to haul, demolish and dispose of one ship can exceed 100,000 yen, according to governments in northern Japan.
A representative of the town hall of Fukaura, Aomori was quoted by Fuji News Network (Dec. 2), “For garbage that washes ashore, we use a subsidy provided by the prefectural government. But, at present, the entirety of the subsidy has been nearly used up.”