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Bodies of 3 possible N. Koreans found floating in Yamagata Pref. harbor

TSURUOKA, Yamagata -- The bodies of three possible North Koreans were discovered floating in Yonago harbor here on the morning of Dec. 4.

The Sakata Coast Guard Office in Yamagata Prefecture and the prefectural police received a report from a local at about 7:20 a.m. that there was "a body floating in the sea." An officer from the Tsuruoka Police Station then confirmed the partially skeletal remains of three men, one of whom had what is believed to be a North Korean badge pinned to his collar.

A wooden fishing boat about 10 meters long and thought to be from North Korea was found drifting near the same harbor on Dec. 2, and the coast guard office and prefectural police are investigating if it is connected to the three bodies.

Meanwhile, the partially skeletal remains of another person and a piece of wood several meters long were reported near a beach in Nikaho, Akita Prefecture, at about 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 4. According to the Akita Prefectural Police's Nikaho Police Station, a wooden structure thought to be the bow section of a boat was also found nearby.

According to police, a small wooden craft of unknown origin was found drifting about 200 meters west of Iwadate harbor in Happo, Akita Prefecture, on Dec. 2. Officers said there had been no reports of suspicious persons in the area.

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