October 08, 2019 12:00
All 60 crew of a North Korean fishing trawler were rescued after it collided with a Japanese patrol ship on the East Sea on Monday morning.
The collision occurred 350 km northwest of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, but all of the North Koreans were rescued by Japanese crew and handed over to another North Korean ship, according to NHK.
A crewmember of the Japanese patrol boat told NHK, "The North Korean ship approached our ship suddenly as we were warning them to leave Japanese territorial waters."
The Japanese boat was not seriously damaged in the collision and started to rescue the North Korean fishermen who had fallen into the water.
The collision occurred in an area that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone and is a prime fishing zone that has been the site of frequent clashes.
North Korean fishing boats have been spotted more frequently there since the UN bolstered sanctions against the North in 2017.
The Asahi Shimbun reported that Japanese patrol ships have driven away no fewer than 1,016 North Korean ships from the area so far this year.
Recently, North Korea simply started claiming sovereignty over those waters. In August, the North dispatched armed high-speed boats to that area warning Japanese ships to "leave our waters."
Last month, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed, "In a bid to defend our sovereignty, we drove off Japanese patrol boats that illegally entered our EEZ."
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