Published: Fri, November 24, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Eight 'N.korean' men found in Japan coast

Eight 'N.korean' men found in Japan coast

Eight men found on the northwestern coast of Japan last night claim to be North Koreans whose boat ran adrift during a fishing trip, Japan's top government spokesman told reporters Friday. Police said a wooden boat was also found at a nearby marina.

The local police stated to AFP have been alerted to the presence of this group early Friday and have placed the men in custody.

"The eight individuals were said to have gone to North Korea for fishing but have drifted due to mechanical problems", said Hachiro Okonogi, president of the national Commission of public safety. He added that the men, whose nationalities couldn't be confirmed, were healthy. They were later transferred to another North Korean vessel.

In late 2015, at least 14 weathered vessels - some badly damaged or capsized - with nearly two dozen bodies reached Japanese shores or were found floating in regional waters.

It is not known whether the men intend to stay in Japan or return to North Korea.

The two countries have stormy relations, with Pyongyang routinely issuing verbal threats as well as firing missiles near or above Japan.

But the Japanese coastguard occasionally rescues North Korean fishermen in maritime accidents in regional waters.

Japan regularly sees North Korean fishing boats straying into its territory, and its coastguard has occasionally had to rescue fishermen.

The coastguard last week saved three out of 12 North Korean fishermen after their boat capsized in high seas.

Japanese police have said they are investigating men discovered on Japan's northern coast who claim they are North Korean.

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