TOKYO — Twenty North Korean fishermen were thrown overboard after a large fishing trawler collided with a Japanese patrol ship on Monday, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported.
According to Japan’s Coast Guard, a patrol ship for the Japanese fisheries agency collided with a large North Korean fishing boat around 9:10 a.m. on Monday in the sea between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, about 220 miles northwest of the Noto Peninsula in central Japan.
NHK reported that the North Korean ship flooded and that 20 people were thrown overboard. According to the Japan Coast Guard, the country’s fisheries agency was rescuing the 20 crew members who fell overboard.
Japan’s Coast Guard said in a statement: “We have confirmed that there was a collision, and we are currently investigating the details.”
“At the present time, we have not received information about any injuries,” it added.
The collision came less than a week after North Korea launched a missile that landed off Japan’s coast in its exclusive economic zone. According to TBS, a Japanese television news broadcaster, Monday’s collision also occurred in an area within the exclusive economic zone.
Japan’s fisheries agency has repeatedly warned North Korean fishing ships that have sailed into the country’s waters that their squid fishing operations are illegal.
Satoshi Kuwahara, chief of Japan’s fisheries control division, told reporters that the agency’s patrol boats set off water cannons or flash electric bulletin board messages to ships that illegally enter Japan’s waters. The collision on Monday occurred while Japan’s patrol boat was sending out such warnings to the North Korean trawler.