A range of electronic and other products, including home appliances and a solar power panel, were found missing on an uninhabited islet off the northern main island of Hokkaido where North Korean crewmen took shelter due to bad weather, Japan Coast Guard officials and sources familiar with the matter said Monday.
Police and coast guard officials searched the islet on Sunday. According to the sources, a TV, a motorbike, a refrigerator, a rice cooker and a power generator were found missing from a refuge hut. The hut had been locked, but it was broken into and its inside was disarranged.
A wooden fishing boat with 10 North Korean men on board was found drifting in waters near the islet last Wednesday. The fishermen, who were later rescued by the coast guard, were seen dumping some home appliances into the sea from their boat.
Japanese authorities found several home appliances, including a TV, from the boat while a coast guard patrol boat has collected some of the appliances thrown into the water.
The coast guard said some solar power panels used to power a lighthouse on the islet were also missing.
The North Korean crewmen have told the officials they left the port of Chongjin in northeastern North Korea in September for squid fishing in the Sea of Japan before the steering wheel failed around a month ago.
The crewmen also said they temporarily took shelter on the islet due to bad weather, the coast guard said.
The wooden boat was towed into a port outside Hakodate in Hokkaido on Sunday for inspection by police and the coast guard. The officials are also questioning the crewmen.
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the top government spokesman, said he would like to "refrain from commenting (on the discovery of missing items on the islet) with prejudgments as investigations are ongoing."