A fishing boat carrying eight North Korean men that was washed ashore in northeastern Japan has disappeared at the port where it was moored, police said Saturday.

The police said they are not sure immediately whether the 20-meter wooden vessel submerged at the port in Akita Prefecture or drifted outside the breakwater to the Sea of Japan.

The North Korean men told local authorities that they were fishing before the boat's engine failed. They are not expected to seek asylum in Japan.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Friday that the government will "respond appropriately." Japan has no diplomatic relations with North Korea.

The men told investigators that they left a port in North Korea about a month ago for squid fishing and were scheduled to return home in a few weeks, but were cast adrift following engine failure.