North Koreans sent home after ‘drifting’ into Japan


TOKYO — Three North Korean men, who reached Japan in a small wooden boat last week, were sent home Monday under an agreement between Pyongyang and Tokyo, the Japanese foreign ministry said. The trio were found in the 7-meter (23-foot) boat with the body of another man, who had died from hypothermia, near the western Japanese island of Oki on Friday, the Japan Coast Guard said earlier. They said they started drifting with engine trouble after setting off on a fishing trip in mid-December, according to Japanese coastguard officials. Despite lacking diplomatic ties, the two governments agreed on the return of the trio in unofficial talks in Beijing, the Jiji and Kyodo news agencies reported. The ministry said in a statement that negotiations had been made “from a humanitarian viewpoint as the three people have expressed their wish to return to North Korea.”