Japan says it has forced hundreds of North Korean boats from fishing grounds

Japan says it has forced hundreds of North Korean boats from fishing grounds
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Japanese officials say that the country's coast guard has turned away hundreds of fishing vessels owned by North Korean fishermen in recent months, in some cases deploying water cannons to deter poachers.

ABC News reported Tuesday that Japan's coast guard said in a statement that as many as 300 vessels have been identified and turned away by Japanese boats since May.

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Footage released by the agency reportedly depicted North Korean fishermen abandoning one vessel after being sprayed with water cannons from a Japanese coast guard ship.

The incidents have all reportedly occurred in the 200-square mile Yamatotai fishing region off of Japan's northern coast, known for a rich squid population that sustains Japan's fish markets.

Coast guard officials added that as many as 225 abandoned North Korean vessels had washed ashore in Japanese territory over the course of 2018, according to ABC.

Officials told the news outlet that the surge in illegal fishing could be due to fisherman taking more risks to provide larger fish harvests as the rogue nation struggles to provide healthy food choices for its population.

A U.N. report in late May warned that North Korea's government was in dire shape due to crippling U.S.-backed sanctions, resulting in the country's government extorting more from the country's population in the form of bribes.

“The rights to food, health, shelter, work, freedom of movement and liberty are universal and inalienable, but in North Korea they depend primarily on the ability of individuals to bribe State officials,” the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, said last month.

North Korea's mission to Geneva disputed those claims in a statement, calling them the product of defectors who made comments under duress.

“Such reports are nothing more than fabrication ... as they are always based on the so-called testimonies of ‘defectors’ who provide fabricated information to earn their living or are compelled to do so under duress or enticement," North Korean officials reportedly said.

Negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea largely evaporated earlier this year after a second summit between President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnKim poses for photos on white horse on sacred mountain, plans 'great operation' Beware the 34th month of Trump's presidency The Trump doctrine: Principled realism or endemic confusion? MORE, failed to result in an agreement on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula or sanction relief.