Official found dead off Kyushu

Kyodo

A member of the Cabinet Office was found dead last month in a dinghy off Kitakyushu, officials of the 7th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters said Saturday.

The body of the civil servant, aged 30, was clothed in a black jacket and found with South Korean currency notes after the dinghy was located close to concrete wave barriers on Jan. 20. There were no noticeable external injuries on the body.

The 3-meter-long dinghy, which had a motor, was made in South Korea, according to the coast guard.

The coast guard said the man’s death is under investigation and that it is unknown whether foul play was involved. Investigators said the man probably died before around Jan. 13.

The man, whose name was not released, had started to work for the Cabinet Office in April 2010. He had been studying at a graduate school in Minnesota since last July as a member of the Cabinet Office’s Economic and Social Research Institute.

In December, he requested that he take part in an economy-related conference in South Korea that took place in early January. The trip was approved as part of his official duties.

But the Cabinet Office said it cannot disclose whether he actually entered South Korea.

The coast guard said it received a call from a ship in the area at 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 18 that said “a man was lying down in a vinyl boat about 500 meters away from breakwaters.”

A coast guard patrol boat later spotted the boat, but it overturned in the rough seas.