Japanese and North Korean ships collide
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Date Published: October 07, 2019
Japanese coast guard officials reported that more than 20 North Koreans have been rescued Monday after they were thrown into the sea after their fishing boat collided with a Japanese patrol vessel in Japan's exclusive economic zone.
The collision occurred at around 9:10 a.m., some 350 kilometers northwest of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, according to Japan's Fisheries Agency.
About 20 minutes after the collision with the agency's patrol vessel, the fishing boat sank, according to the Japan Coast Guard. Taku Eto, minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, said the fishing boat collided with the patrol vessel after making a sharp turn.
The agency said the patrol vessel was able to move by itself and nobody on the Japanese vessel was likely hurt. The agency said its vessel had warned the North Korean boat which appeared to be fishing for squid to leave the area before the collision occurred, as it was deemed to be there illegally.
The incident occurred near an area in the sea called Yamatotai, known as fertile waters for squid and other types of fish.
Japan dispatched an airplane, helicopter and patrol boats to the site.
The Japanese government also set up a liaison unit at the crisis management center of the prime minister's office to deal with the incident. Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic relations. Based on international law, Japan requested North Korea to receive the fishermen, but there is still no response, the coast guard said.
In recent years, the Fisheries Agency has strengthened surveillance around Yamatotai as illegal fishing operations by North Korean and Chinese boats have been observed from June through December, the peak season for squid. The agency's surveillance activities include giving warnings to foreign fishing ships as well as spraying them with water.
In late August, a crew member with a rifle aboard a high-speed vessel, likely from North Korea, threatened to fire at a coast guard patrol boat near Yamatotai, prompting Tokyo to lodge a protest with Pyongyang.
Last week, North Korea reportedly fired at least one missile off its east coast on Wednesday that South Korea said may have been launched from a submarine, a day after it announced the resumption of talks with the United States aimed at ending its nuclear program.
Japan’s top government spokesman said the ballistic missile may have split into two before falling into waters off Japan’s west coast.
At the moment, it seems that one missile was launched and that split into two and fell. We are conducting analysis for details,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch of what he said were two ballistic missiles, one of which fell in the waters of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), saying it was a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The launch was likely a reminder by the North, which rejects the U.N. resolutions banning the use of ballistic missile technology as an infringement on its right to self-defense, of its weapons capability ahead of the talks with Washington, analysts said.
Talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been stalled since a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended without a deal.