Japan searching for North Korean boat crew who fell into sea

The coast guard said it dispatched four patrol vessels and two aircraft after receiving calls reporting a capsized boat. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 16 October 2019

Japan searching for North Korean boat crew who fell into sea

  • Officials say the boat capsized in a rich fishing ground frequented by North Korean poachers
  • Another North Korean boat sank in a recent incident after colliding with a Japanese fishing vessel

TOKYO: The Japanese coast guard was searching for crew members who fell into the sea from a wooden North Korean fishing boat that capsized off Japan’s northwestern coast, officials said Wednesday.
The coast guard said it dispatched four patrol vessels and two aircraft after receiving information of the capsizing earlier Wednesday.
Officials said the incident occurred near an area called Yamatotai, a rich fishing ground that’s also crowded with North Korean poachers.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that a Japanese fisheries inspection ship received a distress call from another North Korean boat. He said the Japanese fisheries and coast guard patrol boats are jointly searching for the missing.
No further details were available, including the number of crew or why the boat capsized. It was not immediately known if the boat was inside Japan’s 200-mile (322-kilometer) exclusive economic zone, where the country has the right to all resources.
Last week, a North Korean boat in the area sank after a collision with a Japanese fisheries boat warning it to leave the Japanese exclusive economic zone. About 60 crew members of the North Korean steel boat were safely rescued by another boat from the North.
Japanese Fishing Agency and coast guard officials said they did not arrest the North Koreans because their boat had sunk and could not obtain proof they were fishing illegaly. The area is too deep to retrieve the sunken ship, officials said.
The government plans to release a video around the time of the collision.
Japan has stepped up sea patrols after noticing more North Korean boats as Pyongyang tries to boost fish harvests.


Khalilzad upbeat on chances for intra-Afghan peace talks

Updated 8 min 27 sec ago

Khalilzad upbeat on chances for intra-Afghan peace talks

  • Khalilzad said the US was trying to help resolve the prisoner issue

WASHINGTON: The US special envoy for Afghanistan sounded upbeat on Monday about the chances for peace talks starting between the Kabul government and the Taliban militant group but suggested further prisoner releases were needed first.
Speaking to reporters, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad also sought to play down an independent UN experts report that ties between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda remain close despite the Taliban’s pledge to cut such links.
Khalilzad, who helped broker a Feb. 29 US-Taliban troop withdrawal agreement, said the Afghan government has freed 2,400 to 2,500 Taliban prisoners since that pact was reached and the militant group has freed more than 400 government detainees in return.
“We are in a good place,” Khalilzad said, adding that levels of violence in Afghanistan have remained relatively low since May’s Eid Al-Fitr cease-fire. “We are optimistic that finally we’re moving forward to the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.”
Under the US-Taliban deal — to which the Afghan government was not a party — the United States committed to reduce its military footprint in Afghanistan to 8,600 troops by mid-July and, conditions permitting, to zero by May 2021. US troop strength already is down to nearly 8,600, US and NATO officials said last week.
Under the agreement, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and up to 1,000 government prisoners were to have been freed by March 10, when talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban were to have begun.
Khalilzad said the United States was trying to help resolve the prisoner issue and “we are hoping that violence will stay low. So with the release of prisoners, we can begin inter-Afghan negotiations.”