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Japan: Record 104 suspected North Korean boats washed ashore in ’17

in Akita Prefecture in December
A suspected North Korean fishing boat was found in the town of Mitani, Akita Prefecture in December (NHK)

TOKYO (TR) – The Japan Coast Guard on Friday revealed that a record number of suspected North Korean boats washed ashore along the Sea of Japan coast in 2017, reports NHK (Jan. 5).

According to the agency, 104 wooden vessels likely from North Korea washed shore in northern Japan last year. In 2016, the figure was 38.

The total for 2017 is the largest since figures began being kept in 2013, when the figure was 80.

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. In December, the number surged to 44, according to the coast guard.

At total of 35 corpses have been found on board the vessels and in the vicinity of where they were discovered. Another 42 sailors have been taken into protective custody from the vessels. Both figures are records, the coast guard said.

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.