North Korean missile ship was seen off the coast of Japan
Japan's Coast Guard confirmed the ship's presence in the Yamatotai area off the coast of Ishikawa.
The NHK network learned that in late June a North Korean vessel armed with a portable surface-to-air missile was seen in the Japanese archipelago's fishing zone off the coast of the Sea of Japan.
Sources told NHK that Japan's Coast Guard confirmed the presence of the official North Korean ship in the Yamatotai area off the coast of the Noto Peninsula (Ishikawa).
Sources say the missile was of the same type as the SA-16, which was developed by the former Soviet Union. It would have a range of 4,5 km.
They say this was the first time that a North Korean ship armed with a missile was confirmed in the Yamatotai area.
In 2001, a missile-armed North Korean spy ship sank after exchanging fire with a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel off Amami-Oshima in the East China Sea.
The Yamatotai area is in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone and is one of the largest fishing grounds in the nation.
Japanese fishing boats have long operated in the area, catching squid and other marine products. But illegal fishing by foreign vessels, including some from North Korea and China, has become a problem in recent years.
Japan's Coast Guard has raised its alert level to ensure the safety of Japanese fishing boats operating in the area. She constantly sends out patrol boats to deal with suspicious ships and analyzes North Korea's latest intentions.
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