Mysterious corpse-filled ships found on Japanese coasts and their ‘fishy’ origin
The Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) found several ‘ghost-ships’ on its coast in the northern Akita prefecture, the most recent of which contains eight corpses. Since January, approximately 43 ships have washed up on Japanese shores in addition to the 66 from last year.
The 68 year old woman who came across the latest ship told Kyodo News that “[she] was surprised to see the boat in such a bad condition.”
Corpses onboard the ships were decomposed beyond recognition, making it difficult to identify the dead men and women to whom they belong.
Based on objects discovered onboard such as cigarettes and life jackets with Korean characters, both the JCG and local Japanese police concluded these vessels came from North Korea.
BBC reported that the discovery of these ships was made only days after North Korean fishermen washed ashore in Japan near the same area. These fishermen said that while fishing for squids, they accidentally drifted into Japanese waters.
Geographically speaking, since Japan’s coast line is opposite of the North Korean border, we may reasonably infer that these boats originated from North Korea.
According to Seo Yu-Suk, research manager of North Korean Studies Institution in Seoul, Kim Jong Un sought to send men into the sea to gather fish in an attempt to resolve his country’s food shortage. His men, however, were not properly equipped with their small boats for the sea’s rough currents at this time of the year.
BBC expert Celia Hatton suspects that these ‘ghost ships’ are a result of North Korea’s efforts to combat widespread hunger and increase seafood supply.
"North Korea pushes so hard for its people to gather more fish so that they can make up their food shortages," stated Seo Yu-Suk.
Yoshihiko Yamada, a professor at Japan’s Tokai University, explained that the sea is especially difficult to navigate under current weather conditions.
"During the summer, the sea of Japan is quite calm. But it starts to get choppy when November comes. It gets dangerous when northwesterly winds start to blow," he commented.
An NHK broadcast reported that the 7m (23 ft) long vessel was missing a rotor blade and navigational devices, making it ill-equipped for rough waters.
Though the origin of these ships has yet to be verified, all geographical and political contexts seem to point to North Korea.