ISHIKAWA (TR) – Eight corpses possibly belonging to North Korean nationals have been discovered aboard and near a wooden ship that washed ashore in Kanazawa City earlier this month, reports NHK (Jan. 16).
On Monday, Japan Coast Guard officials and officers from the Kanazawa-Nishi Police Station searched the vessel, which washed ashore in the Shimoyasuharamachi area on January 10, and found seven decayed bodies.
The clothed bodies did not exhibit any external wounds. Given the stage of decay of the bodies, portions of which had turned skeletal, it is believed that all of the persons died some time ago, authorities said.
Due to high waves, the search of the capsized vessel was delayed until Monday. Another male corpse was found on the beach on the day the vessel was first spotted.
Based on the style and construction of the 19-meter-long vessel, coast guard officials believe the ship is from the Korean peninsula, and very likely North Korea. As well, a pin with a portrait of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and a pack of cigarettes containing hangul characters, which is the script of the Korean language, was found on board.
Police are now attempted to confirm the identity of the bodies and determine the causes of death. It is speculated that the body found on the shore came from the vessel.
The discovery is a continuation of a trend that intensified last year. Earlier this month, the coast guard revealed that a record 104 wooden vessels likely from North Korea washed shore in northern Japan last year. In 2016, the figure was 38.