Rotting bodies in Korean-marked boat found in Japan
According to police, the bodies are decomposed badly that they cannot confirm exactly how
many bodies there are. -AFP
TOKYO - A wooden boat containing several rotting bodies and with Korean characters on its side has been found on the rocky shore of a Japanese island, local police said Wednesday.
The boat, 13 metres (42 feet) long, was discovered on Sado island, which lies in the Sea of Japan, a stretch of water known as the East Sea by Koreans, police said.
"The bodies are decomposed badly and we still cannot confirm exactly how many of them there are," said a local police spokesman, adding belongings and rubbish were scattered inside.
Kyodo News and the Yomiuri Shimbun daily said there were five bodies.
The police spokesman said the Korean characters were impossible to read.
"We cannot determine their nationality yet. The boat seems to have been drifting in the sea for quite some time," he said.
In January Japan's coastguard found three people adrift in a small boat off the country's west coast.
The three North Koreans and another man, who had died of hypothermia, were originally thought to be defectors from the communist state.
But they told officials their boat had developed engine trouble during a fishing trip and they had unintentionally drifted. They were later repatriated.
The bulk of would-be refugees from North Korea cross first into China to escape repression, poverty and food shortages in the isolated nation.
Nine North Koreans - three men, three women and three children - were picked up by Japan's coastguard in September 2011 after spending five days at sea. They then travelled to South Korea to settle there.
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