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.


Australian special forces probed for alleged Afghan war crimes

Updated 25 February 2020

Australian special forces probed for alleged Afghan war crimes

  • 55 separate incidents being investigated as part of a years-long probe into war crime allegations
  • Elite Australian commandos were deployed alongside US and allied forces in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks

SYDNEY: Australia is investigating more than 50 alleged war crimes by the country’s special forces in Afghanistan, including the killing of civilians and prisoners, the military watchdog said Tuesday.
An annual report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defense Force said 55 separate incidents were being investigated as part of a years-long probe into allegations Australian soldiers committed war crimes while serving in Afghanistan.
These relate mainly to unlawful killings of “persons who were non-combatants or were no longer combatants” as well as “cruel treatment” of such persons, the report said.
“The inquiry is not focused on decisions made during the ‘heat of battle’,” it added.
It is also considering “cultural, psychological, operational and organizational factors” surrounding the alleged incidents.
The probe was launched in 2016 in response to what the watchdog called “rumors” of “very serious wrongdoing” over more than a decade by members of Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
Elite Australian commandos were deployed alongside US and allied forces in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks. NATO and its allies pulled combat forces from the country in 2014.
The ongoing inquiry, led by judge Paul Brereton, has called 338 witnesses and is now “approaching the final stages of evidence-taking.”
Defense Minister Linda Reynolds told Sky News she expected the watchdog would provide a report to the country’s defense chief within months and he would “decide on appropriate further actions.”
At least four investigations into alleged abuses by Australian special forces in Afghanistan are currently under way.