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更新时间:2017-12-8 10:24:19 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Ghostly Boats Carry North Korean Crews, Dead and Alive, to Japan

MIYAZAWA BEACH, Japan — The weather-beaten wood fishing boat still harbored its secrets as it lodged in the sand, frigid waves beating against its side. All that remained were a few clues, strewn across the deck.


Climbing aboard this week, I saw a bulb of garlic, tangled fishing nets and ropes, a yellow cable knit sweater covered in sand. Then there were the hints of the boat’s origins: a jar of brown sauce that might be gochujang, a Korean fermented red chili paste, and several boxes of cigarettes, bearing labels in Korean that warned, “smoking is the main cause of cancer and heart disease.”


Eight men died on this 40-foot boat that washed ashore here on the Oga peninsula along Japan’s northwestern coast late last month. The Coast Guard found their bodies, some reduced almost to skeletons, on the boat, which is believed to have come from North Korea. But what exactly the fishermen were doing and how they found their way to Japan remains a mystery.


The boat that landed on Miyazawa Beach in Akita prefecture was just one of 76 fishing vessels that have ended up on Japanese shores since the beginning of the year, 28 of them in November alone.


In the past two weeks, at least seven boats have arrived in Akita, all of them bearing signs that they came from North Korea. One of them carried eight live crew members to Yurihonjo, a medium-sized port town in Akita, where they were kept in police custody for more than a week before being transferred to an immigration facility in Nagasaki last Saturday. Japan’s Immigration Bureau said the men will be returned to North Korea.


With tensions mounting on the Korean Peninsula as the North’s nuclear and missile programs continue to advance, the arrival of this ghostly armada has stoked anxiety in Japan, where residents are questioning the motives of the fishermen and those who may have sent them.


“I am wondering why so many of these have all of a sudden come in such a short time,” said Kazuko Komatsu, 66, who lives in a house close to the marina in Yurihonjo. North Korea, she said, “is a mysterious country. We don’t know so much. I don’t know if they are coming here to escape or whether they just accidentally drifted here.”

“我想知道,为什么突然在这么短的时间里来了这么多的人,”66岁的小松和子(Kazuko Komatsu,音)说,她住在由利本荘市小船坞附近的一栋房子里。她说,朝鲜“是一个神秘的国家。我们对其所知甚少。我不知道他们是逃到这里来的,还是仅仅因为偶然原因漂到这里来的”。

For years, North Korean fishing boats, mostly ghost ships that ran aground either empty or carrying the dead bodies of their crew, have arrived in Japan, often in the fall and winter months when rough weather roils the sea and conditions grow dangerous for crews using outdated boats and equipment.


The recent rise in numbers of fishing boats landing on Japan’s western coast has spooked local residents, whose views of North Korea are shaped by media accounts of the hermit kingdom and stories of Japanese citizens abducted by the North.


Suspicions are particularly high when live fishermen have come ashore. This year, 18 North Korean crew members have landed on beaches in Japan, the highest number in the last five years.


The crews have told authorities that they hit bad weather and suffered mechanical problems on their boats before drifting with the currents toward Japan. But some Japanese doubt those stories, suspecting darker purposes.


Those doubts were fanned last month when Japan’s Coast Guard discovered a North Korean boat anchored near an island off Hokkaido. When questioned, crew members confessed that some of the boat’s 10 crew members had gone ashore and taken refrigerators, televisions, washing machines and a motorcycle from fishing shacks. Police in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, say they are still questioning the fishermen and have not determined whether they will be arrested.


In Yurihonjo, where the eight living North Korean fishermen washed up in a fishing boat on Nov. 23, a lack of information has fueled speculation. “Are they spies?” read a headline in the Akita Sakigake Shimpo, a local newspaper.


Outside a grocery store in Yurihonjo earlier this week, Mariko Abe, 66, said she was suspicious of the fishermen’s motives. “Maybe they were trying to kidnap some people,” she said. Her friend, Tomoe Goto, 41, said she wondered if the fishermen were trying to defect. She also worried that there were other crew members, unaccounted for, hiding somewhere in town.

本周早些时候,66岁的阿部真里子(Mariko Abe,音)在由利本荘市的一家食品杂货店外说,她怀疑那些渔民的动机。“也许他们想绑架几个人,”她说。她的朋友,41岁的后藤友惠(Tomoe Goto,音)说,她想知道渔民是不是想从朝鲜叛逃。她还担心有未被发现的船员,他们在城里某个地方藏了起来。

Unlike in South Korea, where authorities disclosed details about a North Korean soldier’s dramatic escape through the heavily guarded border with South Korea last month, the police in Akita have been frugal with details about the North Koreans arriving here.


Local police in Yurihonjo confirmed that the eight fishermen identified themselves as North Korean and told officials they had run into some kind of mechanical trouble.


Yoshinobu Ito, deputy chief of the Yurihonjo Police Department, declined to say if they had applied for asylum, or what other information the police had learned from the men during the nine days they stayed at the police station.

由利本荘市警察局副局长伊藤嘉信(Yoshinobu Ito,音)拒绝透露渔民是否申请了庇护,也拒绝透露警方在把他们拘留在警察局的九天里,从这些人那里获得了什么信息。

“There are parts of the press reports that were accurate and parts that were not,” Mr. Ito said.


The Akita prefectural police said immigration authorities had issued emergency landing permits to the fishermen and determined they were not spies. But Shogi Hashimoto, a superintendent at Akita police headquarters, said, “we cannot tell you the criteria of how we assumed they are not spy agents.”

秋田县警方表示,移民局已给渔民签发了紧急登陆许可,并认定他们不是间谍。但秋田县警察总部的负责人桥本棋(Shogi Hashimoto,音)说:“我们不能告诉你,我们认定他们不是间谍用的是什么标准。”

Fears about North Korean spies entering Japan surface regularly. Such agents are known to have abducted Japanese citizens in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and in Akita, the police said they had arrested North Korean spies in the 1960s and at least once in the 1980s. When the fishermen first came ashore in Yurihonjo last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Parliament that the crew members could be spies.


Satoru Miyamoto, a professor of political science at Seigakuin University, said he doubted any of the North Koreans currently landing in Japan are engaged in espionage.

圣学院大学政治学系教授宫本悟(Satoru Miyamoto)说,他对目前在日本上岸的朝鲜人从事间谍活动的说法表示怀疑。

Spies, he said, “would come on a better ship.” He said the current crews were likely fishermen or farmers trying to supplement their incomes during their off-season. Some were relatively inexperienced, he said, and when they encountered wild ocean currents in aging wooden boats, “some of them ran into trouble.”


According to propaganda videos released by North Korea, Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, has heavily promoted commercial fishing. In one video shown on Japanese broadcaster Nihon TV, the regime said it wanted to double the country’s catch this year.

据朝鲜发布的宣传视频,朝鲜领导人金正恩正在大力提倡商业捕鱼。在日本广播公司Nihon TV曾经播放的一段视频中,朝鲜政府说,要让今年国内的捕捞量翻一番。

Under United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea, the country cannot sell seafood abroad. Jiro Ishimaru, a journalist with Asia Press who covers North Korea, said many fishermen are trying to sell their catches domestically, and take big risks to fish for squid in a particularly treacherous area of the Sea of Japan known as the Yamato Rise. “It is dangerous, but they can quickly earn money,” said Mr. Ishimaru.

由于联合国安理会对朝鲜施加了制裁,朝鲜不能把海鲜出口到国外。亚洲新闻社(Asia Press)负责报道朝鲜的记者石丸次郎(Jiro Ishimaru)说,许多渔民都试图在国内销售他们的打来的海产品,他们冒着巨大的风险在日本海一个叫“大和海脊”(Yamato Rise)的特别危险的地区捕捞鱿鱼。“虽然很危险,但他们能很快赚到钱,”石丸次郎说。

Along the eastern coast of North Korea, “there are fishing villages known as ‘widows’ villages,’” he said. “Many people don’t return.”


Indeed, the eight men whose boat washed ashore in Oga will never make it home. According to Hiromi Wakai, a spokeswoman in Akita for the Coast Guard, their bodies, ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s, were badly decomposed by the time their boat reached the shore. In autopsies, a medical examiner concluded that two of them died by drowning, but could not determine a cause of death for the other six.

的确,被冲上男鹿半岛的船上的八名船员将永远无法回家。据秋田县海岸警卫队发言人若井宏美(Hiromi Wakai,音)说,他们的船被冲上岸时,船上年龄从20岁到50岁不等的船员们的遗体已经严重腐烂。验尸官在验尸报告给出的结论是,其中两人死于溺水,但不能确定其他六人死亡的原因。

Over the weekend, the city of Oga cremated the bodies. The Coast Guard is keeping fingernails and toenails for DNA identification in case family members come forward. In past cases, the Japanese Red Cross has helped to return remains to North Korea.


For now, the ashes of the eight are stored in unmarked white boxes that sit on a table at the back of the main hall in Tousenji, a Zen temple in Oga.


Ryosen Kojima, 62, Tousenji’s priest, said the temple would keep the ashes indefinitely. If they are not claimed, they will eventually be buried in a grave for unknown souls in the temple’s back garden.

Tousen寺62岁的主持小岛云仙(Ryosen Kojima,音)表示,寺院将无限期地将骨灰保留下去。如果无人前来认领的话,最终会把他们埋葬在寺院后花园里的一个无名灵魂墓里。

“They are humans just like us,” said Mr. Kojima, who said the temple usually takes in two or three sets of anonymous remains of North Korean fishermen a year. “But they have no one to look after their ashes.”


“Since they were born into this world,” he said, “they must have parents and families. I feel so sorry for them.”