Nov. 27 (UPI) — Eight bodies were found on board a boat that had drifted near the shores of Japan’s Akita prefecture, and the fishing vessel is believed to be of North Korean origin, according to Japanese press reports.
The Mainichi Shimbun reported Monday “another boat” was discovered near Japan’s coast around 8:30 a.m. Monday near the city of Oga and Miyazawa beach.
The boat was relatively small, about 7-8 meters in length, and had no steering gear, according to the report.
“Following a search with police, eight bodies of unknown nationality were found on board,” Japan’s coast guard said.
Investigations are underway and there is a possibility the boat is of North Korean origin, the coast guard said.
The boat was found only days after a North Korean boat with eight crewmembers was discovered Thursday near Yurihonjo, another city in Akita prefecture.
The eight North Korean nationals said they had lost their way and said they wished to return to the North.
Akira Nagatsuma, a Japanese politician with the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said Sunday in an interview with Fuji TV authorities cannot rule out the possibility the North Koreans were “disguised” as fishermen, and investigations should be conducted to confirm their identities.
Nagatsuma said North Korean operatives have previously used Akita as a secret route into Japan.
Other boats have been discovered on Saturday and Sunday, according to Japanese press reports.
The incident Thursday occurred when a man who identified himself as North Korean appeared in front of a Japanese woman’s house in Yurihonjo, South Korean news service Newsis reported Monday.
The woman reported the man to the police, and a total of eight crewmembers said they requested repatriation.
According to Japan’s coast guard, a total of 299 North Korean boats have been discovered since 2013.
The coast guard would not disclose the number of dead bodies found on board, because it is a sensitive diplomatic issue, according to Newsis.