A Japan Coast Guard (JCG) patrol ship rescued three fishermen from a capsized wooden boat at around 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Sea of Japan, approximately 360 kilometers north of the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture.
The three men, who claimed to be North Koreans, said, "There are 15 crew members and we were returning from fishing." The JCG vessel is searching for the rest of the crew.
The three men reportedly said, "The boat suddenly overturned." As no signs of a collision were seen on the boat, it appeared the vessel likely capsized due to high waves. The three men were reportedly uninjured and they apparently desire to return to their home country. The JCG crew will keep them on the patrol ship and hand them over to a North Korean vessel.
According to the 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in the city of Niigata, it received a report from a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aircraft saying, "We discovered an overturned boat north of Yamatotai just outside of Japanese EEZ," at around 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 15. The JCG patrol ship rushed to the area and rescued the three men from the boat outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Yamatotai is known as a major fishing ground, especially of Japanese flying squid, and is within Japan's EEZ. Ships apparently from North Korea and China frequently carry out illegal fishing in the area. The JCG is investigating the possibility that the capsized boat was fishing in Yamatotai.