Mysterious boats carrying dead bodies have reportedly been washing up on Japanese shores in recent years.
Authorities have recorded about 44 vessels arriving so far just this year, with the latest boat discovered on Monday. The wooden boat was carrying the skeletons of eight people, which local authorities speculated to have originated from North Korea.
Just a few days earlier, two corpses were found on Sado Island’s western shoreline, along with some cigarettes and life jackets that bore markings of Korean characters.
It was reported that 66 of these floating tombs, called “ghost ships” in the local media, reached the country last year, according to Sky News.
Japanese authorities also intercepted three other ships earlier this month with living and nonliving foreign passengers. They are now investigating if the boats did in fact originate from North Korea, Vice reports.
Experts believe that the bodies belonged to North Korean fishermen or refugees who fled the horrible living conditions in their home country. While this is a possibility, it should be noted that the fishermen rescued earlier this month asked to be returned home along with the bodies of their crewmates, indicating that not all of them are trying to escape their country.
There are also some boats that are found to be carrying living people. Last week, a boat with eight North Korean passengers was found on the shores of Akita prefecture.
In an interview with CNN, Japanese North Korean specialist Satoru Miyamoto noted how the number of ships washing ashore has significantly increased since 2013 as the North Korean government begin utilizing revenues from the fishing industry to help finance the growing military spending.
“They are using old boats manned by the military, by people who have no knowledge about fishing,” the professor from Seigakuin University was quoted as saying.
Seoul-based North Korean Studies Institution research manager Seo Yu-suk Seoul pointed out the possibility that the phenomenon may have been caused by food shortages after greater sanctions from the United States, pushing fishermen to venture further into the sea than usual.
Feature image via Youtube/ Tomo News