Dozens Of Boats Filled With Dead Bodies Keep Washing Up On The Japanese Shoreline

By Erika Hills

Something very strange is washing up on the shores of Japan. Dozens of old boats, filled with dead bodies keep finding their way to the coastline of the world’s third largest economy.

According to The Japan Times, it has become a yearly occurrence for wrecked ships to drift in the seas near Japan by the dozens.

Between 2013 and 2014, 145 boats were found by officials.

In total, 34 have been found this year, including boats that were discovered within the past two months. These ghost ships are thought to have originated in North Korea.

Most recently, on Nov. 20, officials discovered 10 bodies in three boats off the coast of Ishikawa Prefecture. Just a mere two days later, a fourth boat was found.

Carrying a nearly intact body with the head, six skulls, as well as other bones and remains, there it drifted an hour from the location of the other three boats, at Fukui Prefecture.

“There’s no doubt that the boats are North Korean,” John Nilsson-Wright, the head of the Asia program at the Chatham House policy institute told CNN.

Japanese Coast Guard officials said that for the past two months, 11 fishing boats with bodies on board have been found. They carry equipment, nets, and signs written in Korean, including one saying “Korean People’s Army,” the North Korean army, on it.

WATCH: Japanese TV report on a ship that washed ashore

Coast Guard spokesman, Yoshiaki Hiroto, said the small size and poor condition of the 10-to-12 meter long boats are not typical of South Korea or Japan.

Hiroto told the AP that evidence suggests the vessels are from the Korean Peninsula.

A tattered scrap of cloth on one of the boats also points to where they sailed from, as it looks like it could be the North Korean national flag, according to Japan broadcaster, NHK.

“There’s no doubt that the boats are North Korean,” John Nilsson-Wright, the head of the Asia program at the Chatham House policy institute told CNN.

Upon examining photos of the boats, Nilsson-Wright determined the lettering is Korean or Hangul.

Along with the tattered cloth and “Korean People’s Army,” sign, Nilsson-Wright said it is “very logical” to say the boats are from North Korea.

He believes one possibility is that people are trying to flee the regime, although he added that it is impossible to truly know with the limited information authorities have.

CNN reports that local Japanese media have been indicating that fishing boats under the command of the Korean People’s Army could have fallen victim to Kim Jong Un’s pressure for them to catch more fish.

Experts say that due to this, boats also may have drifted off course, ill-equipped to handle the harsh seas.

Cover Photo Credit: Mario Micklisch/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

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