Dozens of North Korean fisherman rescued after collision with Japanese patrol boat

This photo released by the 9th Regional Japan Coast Guard Headquarters shows a Japanese Fisheries Agency patrol vessel at the site of its collision with a North Korean fishing boat off the northwestern coast of the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.


By MIN JOO KIM AND AKIKO KASHIWAGI | The Washington Post | Published: October 7, 2019

SEOUL, South Korea — Dozens of North Korean fishermen have been rescued after their vessel collided with a Japanese patrol boat on Monday, Japan's Jiji Press reported, citing the Japanese coast guard.

The coast guard said the collision took place around 9:10 a.m. local time about 220 miles northwest of the Noto Peninsula within Japan's exclusive economic zone. The North Korean vessel sank 20 minutes later, with its crew members thrown into the water.

The North Korean vessel made an unauthorized entry into Japan's exclusive economic zone, Fisheries Agency official Satoshi Kuwahara told reporters. He said the two ships collided as the Japanese patrol boat was warning the North Korean vessel to leave.

Japanese authorities have been stepping up patrols to detect North Korean ships that sail into the country's waters for illegal fishing.

The Fisheries Agency patrol boats send warnings to such boats through water cannons or electronic signs, according to Kuwahara.

In June, Japan pushed more than 300 North Korean boats out of its fishing grounds in the same area where the collision happened on Monday.

Last month, Tokyo lodged a protest with Pyongyang after a Japanese patrol boat was threatened by what Japan said was an armed North Korean boat intruding in Japanese waters.

Pyongyang disputed Japan's claim, saying the incident occurred in North Korea's exclusive economic zone, not Japan's.

Monday's incident came five days after North Korea fired a ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea. Japan condemned the launch, saying the missile fell inside its territorial waters.

Kashiwagi reported from Tokyo.

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