• Kyodo

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The Niigata Prefectural Government has decided to bar ships that are uninsured, need repairs, or fail to meet safety standards from docking at ports under its control, prefectural officials said Saturday.

The prefectural government will submit a bill revising its ordinance to enable the local government to refuse port calls by such ships. A regular prefectural assembly session opening in late June will take up the issue, the officials said.

The decision, which will apply to both Japanese and foreign ships, was made following recent incidents involving foreign ships running aground and being abandoned in Japanese waters.

One such incident involved a North Korean freighter stranded off the port of Hitachi, in Ibaraki Prefecture, last December. Japanese authorities have spent nearly 500 million yen removing tire chips and fuel oil leaking from the 3,144-ton Chil Song.

Once the revised ordinance passes the assembly, the local authority will be able to refuse port entry to the Man Gyong Bong-92 if any detects are found. The North Korean ferry links North Korea and Japan, making port calls in Niigata.

A North Korean defector, who said he was a former missile scientist, alleged in U.S. congressional testimony in Washington recently that more than 90 percent of the parts for North Korea’s ballistic missiles came from Japan and that the Man Gyong Bong-92 was the smuggling conduit.

Japanese intelligence authorities also say the ship is involved in espionage activities.

In March, the Ibaraki Prefectural Government revised its ordinance enabling the local authority to refuse defective ships from entering ports under its jurisdiction. If the Niigata assembly passes the revised ordinance it will be the second of its kind.

According to the Niigata Prefectural Government, uninsured ships or vessels without fire-protection construction will not be permitted to dock.

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