TOKYO – The number of North Korean fishing boats that had washed ashore on the Japanese coast reached its record, according to the Japanese authorities on Wednesday.
A total of 99 North Korean ghost ships have ended up in Japanese waters, with crew members either rescued alive or found dead, a Coast Guard spokesperson told EFE.
The figure, which could reach 100 before the year ends, is the highest recorded by the Japanese authorities, surpassing the earlier record of 80 North Korean boats that ended up in Japanese waters in 2013.
On Monday, the Coast Guard found a half-sunken wreck on Yamagata coast in the northwest with four bodies on board, and because it was similar to the other fishing boats – precarious wooden boats with old engines – from the neighboring country and the objects found inside, it is believed to be of North Korean origin.
The Japanese authorities usually repatriate the rescued fishermen through China or another country, since Japan does not maintain diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
Some experts have said that the increase in international sanctions against North Korea, together with the shortage of crops in winter, propel the fishermen to venture away from North Korean waters in search of seafood, which is very popular in the local market.