Typhoon Nuri nears Ogasawara, Izu chains; government vigilant against alleged Chinese poaching ships

Kyodo

A powerful typhoon is expected to approach the Ogasawara and Izu islands south of Tokyo by Thursday night, the Meteorological Agency said Wednesday, with a throng of suspected Chinese coral poaching vessels spotted in waters off the Pacific islands.

Japanese officials remain vigilant against the ships, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying that Tokyo will not allow Chinese crew members to come ashore due to Typhoon Nuri.

“The Japan Coast Guard has been urging Chinese fishing vessels near the Ogasawara Islands to stay away from the typhoon’s path,” Suga said at a daily press conference.

Many of the ships that had swarmed off the remote islands began leaving the area in a southeasterly direction on Wednesday as Coast Guard patrol ships warned them to go south to get out of the typhoon’s path, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard will allow the vessels to be moored off the islands within Japanese territorial waters if they are likely to suffer physical damage from the typhoon. But even in such a case, it plans to inspect the vessels on the spot and monitor them so their crew members would not come ashore.

As of 6 p.m., the typhoon was heading north-northeast toward the Ogasawara and Izu islands with an atmospheric pressure of 955 hectopascals at its center and packing winds of up to 216 kph. It is expected to weaken to an extratropical depression off Japan’s eastern Pacific coast by Friday morning, according to the agency.

Japan has been boosting surveillance by dispatching patrol boats, planes and police officers, as more than 200 foreign ships were observed poaching precious red coral. Lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party drew up a resolution on Wednesday urging the government to take necessary steps, including lodging a strong protest with China.

“We cannot help but feel outrage at the barbaric act of pulling out coral by the roots,” said the resolution.