Wed, Oct 09, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Japan files protest with North Korea over sea collision

AP, TOKYO

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday said that Tokyo has lodged a protest with Pyongyang over a collision between a North Korean fishing boat that he said illegally entered Japan’s exclusive economic zone and a Japanese patrol boat, pledging to step up measures against foreign poachers.

Japanese authorities on Monday rescued about 60 North Korean fishermen who were thrown to the sea after their ship collided with a Japanese Fisheries Agency inspection vessel and sank.

Abe told parliament that the authorities helped the fishermen onto another North Korean ship and let them go rather than arrest them for criminal investigation due to lack of evidence showing illegal fishing.

However, that does not mean Japan is looking the other way, he said.

“The government of Japan will continue to respond resolutely to prevent illegal operations by foreign fishing boats inside of our exclusive economic zone,” he said, adding that Tokyo protested to Pyongyang via a diplomatic channel in Beijing.

The site of Monday’s collision, near an area known as a rich ground for squid fishing, has been crowded with North Korean poachers in recent years.

Experts say the increase is due to Pyongyang’s campaign to boost fish harvests.

“It makes me angry when I imagine the Japanese fishermen’s concerns,” Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Taku Eto said, referring to the North Korean ship’s entry into the exclusive economic zone .

The Fisheries Agency’s patrol ship yesterday returned to a nearby port for inspection.

Television footage showed no major external damage to the ship except for some scratches on its bow, though it was not immediately known if they were caused by the collision.

Coast guard officials were expected to ask the patrol ship’s captain and crew members to provide details of how the collision occurred.

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