N Korean crew thrown to sea in boat collision


In late May and June, Japan's coast guard drove more than 300 North Korean boats from the same waters.

Japan's Coast Guard said on Monday more than 10 crew members of the North Korean fishing vessel involved in an accident with a Japanese patrol boat were rescued.

A coastguard spokesman said: "We don't know how many were on board in the first place but we were informed that more than 20 were rescued". No one was missing.

The Yamatotai fishing grounds is in a shallower area and is known to be good for catching "surumeika" (Japanese flying squid).

The North Korean ship sank around 9:30 a.m., tossing tens of crew members into the sea.

The coast guard's regional office in Niigata said officials handed the fishermen to another North Korean boat in the area after notifying The North's rescue coordination center to arrange their way home.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to thoroughly investigate the case of a North Korean fishing boat that collided with a Japanese patrol ship in waters frequented by poachers.

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Fisheries Agency officials said the Japanese patrol ship had no major damage and was able to move on its own.

During Monday's parliamentary session, Abe pledged to "resolutely respond to prevent poaching by foreign fishing boats in the Japanese exclusive economic zone".

In August, a North Korea-flagged speed boat was identified and warned in the area close to Yamato Ridge, where a "number of illegal fishing incidents" involving North Korean and Chinese boats have been reported, according to the Mainichi.

The patrol boat is trying to rescue the rest of the crew after their vessel was submerged, the coast guard said, adding nobody on the Japanese vessel was likely hurt.

Experts say some fishermen from the North are traveling far out to sea in order to satisfy government mandates for bigger catches.

Japanese fisheries patrollers have issued almost 500 expulsion orders to poachers, majority from North Korea, between May and August this year, according to the Fisheries Agency.

Since 2017, the coast guard and the Fisheries Agency have enhanced their patrols in the area.