The Japan Coast Guard will deploy large patrol ships to the “Yamatotai,” a rich fishing ground located in Japan’s exclusive economic zone along the Sea of Japan, to crack down on illegal fishing by North Korean fishing boats, a government source revealed on May 21. In recent years, there have been reported a number of cases where North Korean vessels entered Japanese territorial waters and resisted authorities’ attempts to crackdown on them. The JCG aims to block the entry of North Korean vessels entry to Yamatotai by sending patrol ships before the fishing season begins in June.
The JCG discovered that its patrol ships were damaged after coming into contact with North Korean ships on two occasions between October and November 2019. The North Korean boats were large steel boats. Since the damage to the JCG ships were not substantial, authorities decided not to prosecute the North Korean boat operators for obstructing government officials in the performance of their duties. North Korean crew members hurled stones on about 20 occasions. Authorities are prepared for the North Korean boats to offer resistance this year as well.
On May 21, the JCG brought together patrol ships in Niigata Port, which will serve as a base, to begin patrols around the Yamatotai along with ships that the Japan Fisheries Agency deploys to seize boats engaged in illegal fishing. (Abridged)