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N. Korean sailors stole electronics at a Japanese island shelter

N. Korean sailors stole electronics at a Japanese island shelter

Posted December. 05, 2017 07:32,   

Updated December. 05, 2017 09:12


North Korean sailors are being investigated for charges in stealing electronics from a shelter on Matsumaeko Island, NHK and other media reported on Monday.

The Japanese Coast Guard caught an unidentified wooden boat anchoring at Matsumaeko Island, a deserted island in Hokkaido, on last Tuesday. A Japanese patrol ship, which failed to reach the island due to the weather issues, discovered a North Korean wooden boat in the nearby sea and approached it. At that moment, North Korean sailors threw electronics into the sea. Thinking that it is peculiar, the Japanese patrol ship collected some of electronic goods, and investigated the sailors.

Ten sailors were reportedly on board the wooden boat. “We left North Korea in September and caught squids in the East Sea, but our boat drifted as the wheel of the boat broke,” the sailors stated. “We found the island in a bad weather and took shelter. If not, we would have died.”

Later, the patrol found that electronic items, such as TV, refrigerator, washing machine, power generator, bicycle and rice cooker, at the shelter owned by Fisheries Cooperative Association, have disappeared. Several solar cells panels and a bag containing tableware, blanket and jackets have disappeared, while the lighthouse had a trace of intrusion, the Japanese authorities reported.

The Japanese police said that as the North Korean sailors were likely to have stolen the electronics, they towed the North Korean boat to Hakodate Port for further investigation. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide said in a regular briefing that the Japanese authorities would take appropriate measures according to the related laws.

North Korean boats, people and skeletons have been recently discovered at some Japanese coastal regions bordering the East Sea. On Monday alone, three bodies and pieces of a wooden boat were found at a beach in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture, and a body was found near a beach in Nikaho, Akita Prefecture. If the thievery of the North Korean sailors is revealed to be true, it is likely that residents living in the coast line bordering the East Sea will be even more concerned.

Won-Jae Jang peacechaos@donga.com