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Japan considers sending alleged N. Korean defectors to S. Korea

The Japanese government is considering transferring nine apparent North Korean defectors to South Korea, a day after they were found adrift aboard a boat off Japan's west coast, local media reported Wednesday.

The nine North Koreans, including three children, have been questioned by Japanese authorities and reportedly expressed their wish to defect to South Korea.

The Yomiuri newspaper reported on Wednesday that the Japanese government is reviewing a plan to send the North Koreans to South Korea after consultations with the Seoul government, based on a Tokyo law on North Korean human rights. 

Mainichi, another daily, reported that the Japanese government has confirmed the North Koreans as defectors after questioning them. An unnamed Japanese government official told Mainichi that Tokyo will make an appropriate decision by prioritizing "humanitarian concerns."

In a press conference on Tuesday, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said that Tokyo will handle the situation, based on "similar cases in the past."

In June 2007, Japan sent a family of four North Korean defectors to South Korea upon their request, two weeks after they arrived by boat in Aomori, a prefecture on the northern tip of Honshu. (Yonhap News)

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