Japan police find human remains in boat suspected from North Korea — Coast Guard

Japan’s Coast Guard regularly encounter North Korean naval vessels in distress usually involving fishing boats, such as this one in 2017, or wooden boats bearing defectors. (AFP)
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Updated 28 December 2019

Japan police find human remains in boat suspected from North Korea — Coast Guard

  • Police made the discovery in the wooden boat’s stem on Saturday on Sado island
  • The grisly find adds to the troubles that Japan and South Korea have with their neighbor North Korea

TOKYO: Japanese police found the remains of at least five people in a wooden boat suspected to be from North Korea on the coast of one of Japan’s outlying islands on Saturday, a Coast Guard official said.
Police made the discovery in the wooden boat’s stem around 9:30a.m. (0030 GMT) on Saturday on Sado island, which is off the coast of Japan’s northwestern prefecture of Niigata, Coast Guard official Kei Chinen said.
Police found the heads of two persons, as well as five bodies, Chinen said, adding that the cause of death is under investigation.
The official could not immediately confirm whether the heads belonged to the five bodies or were from two other people, saying that is being investigated.
The wooden boat had letters and numbers written in Korean on its outside, he added.
A police officer first spotted the wooden boat on Friday afternoon. Police waited until Saturday before entering it due to unstable weather.
The discovery on Saturday marks the second time since last month that a wooden boat has washed up on the shores of Sado island, Chinen said.
The grisly find adds to the troubles that Japan and South Korea have with their neighbor North Korea, as strained diplomatic ties over the North’s nuclear arms program could make an investigation difficult to carry out.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has given the United States until the end of the year to propose new concessions in talks over his country’s nuclear arsenal and reducing tensions between the adversaries.
Also on Friday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK sent a news bulletin that incorrectly reported North Korea had launched a missile that fell into waters east of the Japanese archipelago, issuing an apology explaining it was a media training alert.


Britain pledges $227 million annual civilian and food aid to Afghanistan

Updated 24 November 2020

Britain pledges $227 million annual civilian and food aid to Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan is at risk of receiving between 15 percent and 20 percent less funding than it received at the previous donor conference four years ago

GENEVA: Britain said it will pledge $227 million in annual civilian and food aid for Afghanistan at a conference on Tuesday in Geneva where officials from about 70 countries and humanitarian organizations will pledge billions of dollars for the war-torn nation.
Dependent on foreign aid, Afghanistan is at risk of receiving between 15 percent and 20 percent less funding than it received at the previous donor conference four years ago, diplomats say, as governments are under intense pressure to make savings as they ramp up spending to help their own economies recover from impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Withholding funds at this point, diplomats say, could at least provide foreign governments with some leverage to inject a greater sense of urgency into peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives that began in Qatar in September.
Britain, a country with a long and difficult history of involvement in Afghanistan, is the country’s third largest bilateral donor, and the amount being pledged in Geneva will be slightly higher than it pledged at the last donor conference in Brussels four years ago.
The statement issued by the UK Mission to the United Nations and World Trade Organization in Geneva said $207 million would be pledged to support peace and stability in Afghanistan and “improve access to education and vital infrastructure.”
Britain would “also announce an extra $20 million to the United Nations’ World Food Programme” for Afghanistan.
The latest monetary commitment is separate from the $93.32 million security pledge for Afghan forces for 2021, which Britain announced last month.
In Brussels in 2016, Britain had pledged a total of $1 billion for four years, which translated into 187.5 million pounds annually.
At the Brussels conference, Afghanistan obtained total pledges of $15.2 billion for 2017 to 2020, equivalent to $3.8 billion a year.