ULLEUNG ISLAND/SEOUL -- South Korean and Japanese maritime police were jointly investigating whether a South Korean fishing boat violated Japanese waters near the South Korean islets of Dokdo, officials said Thursday.
The two sides began the joint probe around 2 p.m. in waters about 69 kilometers southwest of Dokdo in the East Sea off the Korean Peninsula after the 29-ton South Korean fishing boat allegedly entered Japanese waters, an official at South Korea's maritime police said.
"Currently, the two sides are conducting a joint investigation because each side differs over the allegation of violating (the Japanese) exclusive economic zone," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
The South Korean fishing boat with nine people aboard allegedly entered Japan's exclusive economic zone earlier in the day and sailed back towards the South Korean side as six Japanese patrol vessels tracked it.
A South Korean government official in Seoul said the fishing boat drifted to the Japanese waters because of an apparent engine malfunction.
Dokdo is a group of South Korean rocky islets located about 87km east of Ulleung Island. Japan's persistent claims to Dokdo are a main source of tension between the neighboring nations.
The joint probe comes two days before Japan's foreign minister visits South Korea for talks.