North Korean fishing boats illegally operating in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Sea of Japan are classified into at least three different types by experts: fishermen’s boats, boats used by retired military units, and boats used by active military units. The active military units may include a unit trained to support special operations in the event of a contingency. North Korea, which is hard-pressed by economic sanctions, seems to be conducting an all-out operation to earn foreign currency and secure food.
Military commentator Osamu Eya has gathered data from the Japan Coast Guard and conducted his own analysis of one hundred and several dozen North Korean fishing boats that have drifted to Japanese shores.
As a result of analyzing registration numbers and information given on plates in the boat interiors, Eya noticed patterns in the numbers. He divided these numbers into the following three groups: (1) fishery cooperatives, financial committees of fishery cooperatives, North Korea Fisheries Ministry; (2) a retired military unit for earning foreign currency; and (3) an active military unit. (Abridged)