Suspected North Korean boat with bodies found in Japan

The Japanese coast guard says a boat with several bodies and suspected of being from North Korea has been found on a small island in northern Japan

The wrecked boat that had the decomposing bodies was found on Sado Island in Niigata prefecture on Friday, and the bodies were found Saturday, a coast guard official in Sado said on customary condition of anonymity.

Found on the boats were three bodies with heads, two heads without bodies and two bodies without heads. It's officially counted as seven bodies because it is unclear whether the bodies and heads came from the same people, the official said. The five bodies for which gender could be confirmed were all male, he said.

The area where the boat was found faces North Korea and is the region where such boats, dubbed “ghost ships” by the Japanese media, have been found in recent years, numbering about a hundred each year.

Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties. Japan has stepped up patrols in coastal areas to guard against poaching.