NIIGATA – The open wooden vessel that washed ashore Wednesday on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan with the decomposing corpses of five men aboard was probably a North Korean fishing boat, the Japan Coast Guard said Thursday, ruling out the possibility of espionage.
The boat’s dark paint and shape strongly resemble North Korean vessels found in the past and it contained no weapons, the 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Niigata Prefecture said, adding that the stowage area and fish hold also contained no fishing gear.
The boat bore Korean characters and the hull had been breached, possibly when it ran aground on Sado while adrift, according to the headquarters, suggesting any possible fishing gear may have been lost overboard.
Inside the boat, the coast guard and police found plastic cases containing Korean pickles and cigarette boxes with Korean writing, according to the headquarters.
The dead have not been identified.