Police in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan, on Sunday transferred to immigration officials four men found in a wooden boat that drifted ashore. The men are expected to go through procedures to return to North Korea.
The boat was spotted on January 8th on the shore of the town of Okinoshima on an island in the Sea of Japan. Police took into protective custody the four crewmembers who appear to be in their teens through 30s.
Investigative sources say the men told them in Korean that they had left North Korea in early December. Fishing equipment and a broken engine have been found in their boat.
Police suspect the men came from North Korea and experienced distress while fishing.
On Sunday, the four men were transported by a Coast Guard aircraft from Oki Airport to Nagasaki Airport. They were then brought to an immigration facility in the city of Omura in Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan.