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World

AFP
February 10, 2018

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Japan deports stranded North Korean boat crew

TOKYO: Eight North Koreans rescued from a boat adrift near an island in northern Japan last year were deported home via China on Friday, an immigration official told AFP.

The eight men were part of a group of 10 North Korean "fishermen" spotted aboard a tiny wooden boat struggling in bad weather last November.

They are to return to North Korea from a Hokkaido airport via Beijing, a spokeswoman for the Sapporo Regional Immigration Bureau told AFP. Two other crew members remain in Japan, one of them in hospital with tuberculosis and the other, the boat’s 45-year-old skipper, facing charges of theft, she added.

The captain was arrested and indicted last year for stealing a power generator from a local fishery cooperatives facility on the island, part of Hokkaido -- the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands.

Dozens of North Korean fishing vessels have washed up on Japan’s coast in recent years, with the number hitting a record 104 in 2017, up from 66 the previous year, according to the Japanese coastguard.

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