YAMAGATA (TR) – The Japan Coast Guard believes five corpses discovered along shores in Sakata and Tsuruoka cities on Sunday may belong to North Korean nationals, likely a continuation of a trend that began escalating last month, reports Jiji Press (Dec. 24).
At around 8:40 a.m., the Sakata Coast Guard Office received a report about a wooden vessel that was found broken up along the shore in the Aburato area of Tsuruoka.
Coast guard officials arriving at the scene found four corpses in the immediate area of the damaged vessel. All of the bodies were extensively decayed, the officials said.
At just past 11:00 a.m., a fisherman reported the discovery of a male corpse on the beach of Hamanaka in Sakata. Officers from the Sakata Police Station arriving at the scene found the body to be only clothed with a belt.
Believed to be fishing boats
Earlier this month, the Japan Coast Guard revealed that a record 83 suspected North Korean boats have washed ashore along the Sea of Japan coast in 2017, the largest number since figures began being kept four years ago.
The vessels are believed to be fishing boats launched from North Korea whose engines have become disabled. Water currents and winds send the drifting crafts to the northern coasts of Japan.
In many cases, bodies are discovered either inside or near the vessels. In November, authorities reported finding 28 bodies aboard vessels or on shores, a significant increase over the four corpses found in the same month last year.