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Dead Bodies in Mystery Boats Wash Up in Japan

Unidentified wooden boat which was found in the sea off Noto Peninsula, is seen in Wajima, Japan, in this photo taken by REUTERS/Kyodo on November 29, 2015.
Japanese Boats with Dead Bodies
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At least 11 damaged wooden boats carrying bodies drifted into seas near Japan over the past month, Japanese Coast Guard officials say.

Most of the boats had fishing equipment, nets and signs containing words in Korean, the Associated Press reported. One boat carried a North Korean People’s Army sign.

Japan’s Coast Guard spokesman, Yoshiaki Hiroto, would not confirm the boats came from North Korea, according to the Associated Press. He said the wrecked boats are apparently from the Korean Peninsula.

He also said the small boats the Japanese Coast Guard discovered are not typical of boats used in South Korea.

What did officials find?

Japanese officials say dozens of damaged boats drift toward Japan every year. On November 20, officials found four bodies in two capsized, or overturned, boats. They were off the coast of Ishikawa prefecture, Japanese officials said.

Two days later, seven bodies were found inside another wooden boat off the Fukui prefecture.

Many of the bodies are in such bad shape that it has been impossible to determine the cause of death, Japanese officials said. They said some of the wrecked boats were used for fishing, and that some fishermen may have been trying to defect to Japan.

I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.

VOA News reported on this story for Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

origin – n. the point or place where something begins or is created

decomposed – adj. to cause something (such as dead plants and the bodies of dead animals) to be slowly destroyed and broken down by natural processes

driftedv. a slow and gradual movement or change from one place, condition, etc., to another

prefecturen. any one of the areas into which some countries (such as Japan and France) are divided for local government

defect – v. to leave a country, political party, organization, etc., and go to a different one that is a competitor or an enemy