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N. Korea demands Japan compensate for 'sinking' of fishing boat

In this Oct. 7, 2019 photo released by Japan's Fisheries Agency, agency crew members, bottom right, work to rescue North Korean fishermen whose boat collided with a Japanese patrol vessel off the northwestern coast of the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan. (Fisheries Agency via AP)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- North Korea on Saturday accused Japan of deliberately sinking a North Korean fishing boat that sank following a collision with a Japanese patrol vessel this week and demanded compensation, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The patrol ship of the Japanese Fisheries Agency "committed a gangster act of sinking our fishing vessel which was on a normal navigation," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson asserted in response to a question put by KCNA.

Although the crew was rescued by the Japanese side, the unnamed spokesperson claimed their safety was "subjected to a serious threat."

"We strongly demand that the Japanese government compensate for the infliction of the material damage by sinking our vessel and that it work out steps to prevent a recurrence of such incident," the spokesperson added.

The collision occurred at around 9 a.m. Monday, some 350 kilometers northwest of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, with the North Korean ship sinking about 20 minutes later, according to the Fisheries Agency and the Japan Coast Guard.

All of the crew members that abandoned the fishing boat were rescued and handed over to another North Korean boat that was in the area, the coast guard said.

The incident took place near an area in the sea called Yamatotai, known as fertile waters for squid and other types of fish. The agency believes the North Korean boat was illegally catching squid.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the top government spokesman, said Friday that Japan is weighing the release of video footage showing the collision.

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