North Korea slams Japan for ‘trespassing’ in EEZ

Sept. 17 (UPI) — North Korea accused a Japanese ship of violating its exclusive economic zone less than a week after Tokyo claimed it was North Korean high-speed boats that had intruded into Japan’s EEZ.

In an interview with Pyongyang’s KCNA, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said the violations took place on Aug. 23 and 24 inside the North’s exclusive economic zone.

“Patrol ships of Japan’s maritime security agency were chased out by our republic’s self-defense measures,” Pyongyang said.

Japanese media previously reported North Korean high-speed boats, armed with rifles, were seen 30 meters away from Japanese patrol ships inside Japan’s EEZ, and not North Korea’s, on Aug. 23-24. The North Koreans were obstructing the Japanese coast guard, according to reports.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Yoshihide Suga told local reporters Tokyo protested the presence of North Korean boats in “Japanese fishing grounds,” using diplomatic channels.

North Korea’s statement on Tuesday appears to be a rebuttal to Japanese claims, according to South Korean news service Newsis.

“That we drove Japanese ships out of our maritime zone is a righteous act of sovereignty,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said.

“Using diplomatic channels, the foreign ministry is devising ways to prevent interference of our fishing vessels in our waters, by warning the Japanese side,” Pyongyang said.

North Korea’s exclusive economic zone extends 200 nautical miles from base points in both the West Sea, or Yellow Sea, and the East Sea, or the Sea of Japan.

The country is locked in a dispute with Japan at a time when it may be willing to resume diplomacy with the United States.

President Donald Trump had said last week he expects to meet with Kim Jong Un again “at some point” this year.

Trump has ruled out a summit in Pyongyang, however, according to Yonhap on Monday.

“I don’t think we’re ready for that,” Trump said.

The two leaders most recently met on June 30 at Panmunjom inside the Korean demilitarized zone.

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