TOKYO (TR) – The Japan Coast Guard on Wednesday revealed that a record number of suspected North Korean boats have washed ashore along the Sea of Japan coast in 2017, reports the Nikkei Shimbun (Dec. 26).
According to the agency, 99 wooden vessels likely from North Korea have washed shore in northern Japan so far this year, the largest number since figures began being kept in 2013, when the total 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. Through Tuesday, the number stood at 40 for December, according to the coast guard.
At total of 31 corpses have been found on board the vessels and in the vicinity of where they were discovered. Another 41 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.