Chiba remains ID’d as ‘abductee’

JIJI, Kyodo

Police have identified skeletal remains found in Chiba Prefecture last week as those of a missing Japanese fisherman who was suspected of having been abducted by North Korea.

Shuji Koyama, from the city of Niigata, probably was killed while fishing, the Chiba Prefectural Police said.

Koyama disappeared after leaving from Nishi port in Niigata alone aboard a fishing boat on June 6, 2004, according to the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea (COMJAN), a private-sector organization that compiled the list. He was 43 years old at the time.

A used-ship-parts dealer in the city of Sanmu, Chiba Prefecture, found the skeletal remains entangled in a 40-meter-long fishing net that was rolled around a drum 1.2 meters in diameter, according to the Chiba police. The corpse was clad in gray work clothes with orange gloves and a boot. The other boot was reportedly found aboard the boat.

The Japan Coast Guard searched for Koyama but didn’t find him. On Sunday it issued a statement stating that it didn’t check the boat’s nets, assuming Koyama had fallen overboard, and thus apologized for their lack of thoroughness.