At least four ships have washed up on Japan’s west coast this month, some with bodies on board, which the authorities believe originate from North Korea.
Nov 15 : Three North Koreans rescued by Japanese coast guard off Noto Peninsula with three dead bodies on the boat. All bodies and survivors were returned to North Korea.
Nov 17 : Four dead bodies were found aboard another boat which washed up around the same area.
Nov 23 : Eight North Koreans rescued after boat washed up on shores of Akita prefecture
Nov 27 : Eight skeletons found on a vessel at Akita prefecture beach.
The series of N Korean boats washing up in Japan is reminiscent of 2015 when more than 12 so-called ghost ships were discovered with dead bodies on board.
At that time experts said the bodies on boats could be those of refugees or fishermen driven to dangerous waters by desperation of food shortages in the country.
In January this year, Japan rescued 26 North Koreans from a sinking tanker off the Goto Islands. The men were later collected by another North Korean vessel.
Several fishermen rescued earlier this month by Japanese authorities were also returned to N Korea on there request indicating that at least some was