Japanese police informed the press they are investigating the rather ‘suspicious’ case of eight men, claiming to be from North Korea, who was found around the seaside town of Yurihonjo. The eight claimed their fishing boat broke down and washed ashore.
Akita prefectural police received a call from local residents who stated having seen a group of suspicious men standing on the beach. A wooden boat at a nearby marina.
Police explained that the 8 men appeared to be in good health and spoke Korean. They indeed claim to be from North Korea and say they were fishing before the boat broke down.
The case comes just a week after the Japanese Coast Guard had rescued three other North Korean men from a capsized fishing boat, just off Japan's northern coast. Those individuals were then transferred just a few hours later to another North Korean vessel that was bringing them home.
Wreckage from North Korean ships washes ashore on Japanese beaches regularly during winter because of the strong seasonal winds.
As it is the second time in a week that men from North Korea have found themselves on Japanese soil, police are treating this with extreme care. As is known, Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties and because of their colonial and wartime history (as well as Pyongyang's missile and nuclear threats), tensions between the two countries are often very high.
The sea between Japan and both Koreas is quite rich fishing grounds, and Japan has accused many Korean and even Chinese boats of fishing their territorial waters illegally.
So far this year, over a dozen cases of wreckage have been reported in the three northern prefectures facing the Sea of Japan.