Japanese authorities indicated Sunday they will comply with a request from a family of four North Korean defectors, to be sent to South Korea.
The family of three men and a woman were taken into custody after they arrived early Saturday at Fukaura port, Aomori Prefecture, in a small wooden boat. (7.3 meters long and about 1.8 m wide)
Aomori prefectural police were questioning the individuals to ascertain what they wanted.
The four spoke to police in Korean and explained that they left from a coastal area near Chongjin a week ago with the intention of reaching Niigata.
They also told police they wanted to go to South Korea eventually.
Police sources said the four explained that they escaped from North Korea because life is so difficult there. They told the police that "people cannot survive under the current regime." They said they chose Japan because the border separating the two Koreas is closely watched.
Police also found what appeared to be a small bottle of poison in the boat. The family members said they had planned to take the poison if they were captured by North Korean authorities.
A new law that went into effect in June 2006 states that the government must take measures to protect and support North Korean defectors.
[Excerpt of an article in Asahi Shimbun]