TOKYO: Japanese authorities are trying to identify eight people whose partially skeletonised remains were found on a wooden boat that washed up on a beach. The discovery took place in the northern Akita prefecture.
It comes days after a group of men claiming to be North Korean fishermen washed onshore in the same area. Crew-less boats or vessels with bodies on board, known as “ghost ships” and thought to be North Korean fishing boats, regularly wash up in Japan.
In the latest incident, the boat, measuring about 7m (23ft) long, was found on a beach near Oga city on Sunday. The vessel was missing a rotor blade and navigational devices. On Monday officials found the remains of eight people, some reduced to bones while inspecting the boat. Kyodo news agency reported that the coast guard suspected the boat and its occupants had come from North Korea.
Japan regularly sees North Korean fishing boats straying into its territory, and its coastguard has occasionally had to rescue fishermen.
According to BBC, the appearance of “ghost ships” is thought to be a consequence of North Korea’s attempts to satisfy hunger by demanding huge quotas of seafood. This forces fishermen to board ageing ill-equipped vessels and to venture far out to sea, with no equipment to issue a distress call if their boats run into trouble.