Japan-North Korea Relations

Suspicion of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of goods by Chon Ma San, North Korean-flagged tanker, and Xin Yuan 18, Maldivian-flagged tanker

(February 24, 2018)

February 27, 2018
Japanese

1. Overview

At midnight on February 24, 2018, a P-3C aircraft of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Fleet Air Wing 1 P-3C : Kanoya) found that Chon Ma San, North Korean-flagged tanker, was lying alongside Xin Yuan 18, Maldivian-flagged tanker, on the high sea (around 250 km eastern offshore of Shanghai ) in the East China Sea.

Judging from the fact that the two vessels lay alongside each other with their lights turned on at night, both vessels could have been engaged in some type of activity. Following a comprehensive assessment, the Government of Japan strongly suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by UNSCR.

In February 23, 2018, the US Government designated Chon Ma San as a vessel of sanction target against North Korea. Government of Japan confirmed that Chon Ma San erased its vessel name.

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    Chon Ma San and Xin Yuan 18 lying alongside each other with their lights turned on
    (February 24, 22:30) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
  • 画像2
    Chon Ma San and Xin Yuan 18 lying alongside each other with their lights turned on
    (February 24, 22:30) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
  • 画像2
    Xin Yuan 18
    (February 25, 9:00) (Source: Ministry of Defense)
  • 画像2
    Chon Ma San
    (February 25, 9:00) (Source: Ministry of Defense)

2. Japan’s Response

Japan notified the Security Council Committee of this incident and shared information with related countries. Japan also expressed its interest to the Xin Yuan 18-related countries.