TOKYO – The eight corpses found in a boat drifting near the coast of the northern Japanese city of Oga might be of North Korean fishermen, a Japan Coast Guard spokesperson told EFE on Monday.
The boat was spotted for the first time on Friday close to the shore in Akita Prefecture, but due to strong waves, the coast guards could reach it only on Sunday, the spokesperson said.
He added that the authorities were trying to determine the sex of the bodies, which were found in a highly decomposed state.
In a separate incident over the weekend, the Japan Coast Guard recovered two bodies from different parts of the island of Sado in Niigata Prefecture, as well as the remains of a boat, the spokesperson added.
Boxes of North Korean tobacco were found close to the bodies, along with life jackets with phrases written in Hangul, the Korean script.
On Thursday, a group of eight fishermen, claiming to be from North Korea had reached Yurihonjo, also in Akita Prefecture, claiming to have lost their way owing to an engine failure.
Dozens of rudimentary North Korean boats with fishermen – often dead – are recovered along Japanese coasts every year.
These boats – known as ghost boats locally – drift away mid-fishing owing to adverse weather conditions, lack of radar equipment, shortage of fuel – a common problem in North Korea – or engine problems.