National

Japan releases video of ship collision involving Fisheries Agency and North Korean trawler

Kyodo

The government released video footage Friday showing last week’s collision between a Fisheries Agency patrol ship and a North Korean fishing vessel in an effort to demonstrate that Japan took appropriate action.

The 13-minute video shows that the North Korean vessel sank after colliding with the Fisheries Agency patrol ship, the Okuni, on Oct. 7 off Ishikawa Prefecture in the Sea of Japan, conflicting with a claim by Pyongyang that Japan deliberately sank the fishing vessel.

The Okuni directed a water cannon at the North Korean vessel after it failed to comply with a warning to leave the waters in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the footage shows.

The two ships were traveling in parallel, but the North Korean vessel swerved to the left, hit the Japanese ship and subsequently sank.

“We released (the footage) in the public interest in order to inform people that we are conducting enforcement operations appropriately,” agency official Takashi Koya said at a news conference.

The actions of the patrol ship and its use of the water cannons were “appropriate,” Koya said.

The footage shows the Okuni deployed lifeboats for the North Korean crew, who survived and left on another North Korean vessel that was nearby.

The vessel that sank is believed to have been illegally fishing in the area after fishing nets, gear and lines of drying squid were seen on the deck.

On Saturday, North Korea demanded compensation for what it claimed was Japan’s deliberate sinking of the vessel. Pyongyang also urged Tokyo to take steps to prevent a recurrence.

Japan termed the claims “totally unacceptable.”

A Japan Coast Guard ship that arrived after the incident did not question the North Korean crew members about the collision, prompting both ruling and opposition parties to demand release of the footage.

The government was initially reluctant to release it but did so anyway to show the Okuni’s actions were appropriate.

The original video was four hours long but was edited to show just 13 minutes of the incident.

The collision occurred some 350 kilometers northwest of the Noto Peninsula, an area near fertile fishing waters, especially for squid. The area has seen a rise in illegal fishing by North Korean and Chinese ships, and Japanese authorities have been stepping up patrols.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5