• Kyodo

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Yamaguchi Gov. Sekinari Nii said Monday a North Korean company has given Japan permission to dismantle a freighter that went aground off Yamaguchi Prefecture and has been left abandoned since October 2001.

Nii told reporters that late last year, the North Korean company abandoned ownership of the 427-ton cargo ship Chong Ryu No. 2 and submitted a document to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing agreeing that Japan will remove the ship.

The governor said the Foreign Ministry informed the prefecture of the document on Dec. 29 after the embassy received it days before.

Nii said that once the contents of the document are confirmed, the prefecture will consult with the central government and the Yamaguchi Prefecture town of Hohoku, where the ship went aground, to discuss concrete plans for the dismantling and how the estimated cost burden of 100 million yen to 200 million yen should be shouldered.

In principle, shipowners are responsible for dismantling stranded ships, but the North Korean owner has gone bankrupt and was not registered in any insurance scheme, prefectural officials said.

Representatives for the owner had informed Japan Coast Guard officials last year that they would like Japan to remove the vessel, but there had been no formal notification.

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