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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, August 18, 2018

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Japanese police recover more dead bodies from capsized boat

The boat likely came from North Korea

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TOKYO, Japan - On Tuesday, the Japanese police recovered seven bodies from a wooden boat, with indications that the boat likely came from North Korea.

The incident added to a rising number North Korean primitive fishing vessels reaching Japanese shores, more often than not with dead bodies.

The Japanese police spokesman Hiroshi Abe in Kanazawa on the Sea of Japan coast, said in a statement that the boat was overturned and the bodies were found inside along with signs of a North Korea connection including a badge depicting the country’s former leaders and a cigarette packet with Korean writing.

Late last year, the number of North Korean fishing vessels found either on Japanese shores or in waters nearby increased dramatically. 

The rise in incidents came at the same time that a push by North Korean propaganda for fisherman to meet annual seafood quotas was recorded.

According to Japan’s coast guard, it handled 104 cases of suspected North Korean vessels found adrift or aground in 2017.

This was the highest since records started being kept in 2013 and up from 66 cases in 2016. 

However, a coast guard official said that the exact number of vessels isn’t clear because in some cases pieces of wood and other ship fragments drifting in the water could have come from more than one vessel.

Further, the coast guard is said to have counted a total of 35 bodies connected to the vessels in 2017, which was also a new record. 

Further, Coast Guard officials have said that the actual number of North Korean victims could be higher because some bodies which had washed ashore couldn't be identified.

Meanwhile, in a few cases, North Korean fishermen survived shipwrecks or other problems at sea and made it alive to Japan’s shores. 

For instance, in November, eight men claiming to be North Korean fishermen were found near a harbor in the northern city of Yurihonjo, Akita prefecture. 

Officials found a badly damaged fishing boat nearby and the men were subsequently sent back to North Korea.

Then, on December 28, the Japanese media reported that a North Korean fishing captain was charged with theft after authorities said he and his men raided a hut, stealing televisions, solar panels and other items, on a usually uninhabited island off the coast of northern Japan. 

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