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North Korea claims Yamatotai within its “territorial waters”

  • September 26, 2019
  • , Sankei , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

It was learned on Sept. 26 from a government source that a North Korean vessel believed to be a DPRK patrol boat had ordered a Japan Coast Guard patrol ship last month to “immediately leave its territorial waters” by radio before it threatened the Japanese ship with a rifle in waters near “Yamatotani” within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It is unusual for the North to use the term “territorial waters.” The government has increased its vigilance in response to the North’s potential heightened provocation over Japan’s maritime interests.


At around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 23, a Japanese patrol ship, which was dispatched by the Fisheries Agency to monitor illegal fishing within Japan’s EEZ, was approached by a small high-speed boat that hoisted a North Korean naval flag in waters about 378 km off the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. According to the Japan Coat Guard, a Japanese patrol ship, which rushed to the scene after receiving a report from the Fisheries Agency’s patrol ship around 1:00 p.m., was warned by the North Korean vessel to leave “its territorial waters” immediately. A large cargo ship with the North Korean flag painted on its hull was also in the vicinity. On Aug. 24, the same high-speed boat appeared and approached within about 30 meters of the JCG patrol ship and a member of its crew pointed a rifle at the Japanese ship.


A government official points out North Korean authorities are encroaching on Japan’s sovereignty on the pretext of protecting their fishing operations. North Korea identifies the marine and fishing industry as a “fight,” grooming it as a national industry. On Aug. 23 and 24, North Korean fishing boats were not operating near the patrol boat or the cargo ship. The North Korean side may have explicitly demonstrated a stance of challenging Japan’s sovereignty by having its vessels display the DPRK military and national flags. (Abridged)

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