The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs suspected a North Korean-flagged tanker that was lying alongside a small vessel of unknown nationality, in the East China Sea, to have been conducting illegal ship-to-ship transfers of goods, on May 19.
Namely, a P-3C aircraft of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force found that the North Korean-flagged tanker, was lying alongside a small vessel, which according to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs seemed like Chinese-flag, around 350 km southeastern offshore of Shanghai, in the East China Sea.
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The Ministry said that judging from the fact that the two vessels laid alongside each other with their lights turned on at night and connected hoses, both vessels could have been conducting some type of activity. After an assessment, the Government of Japan suspects that they conducted ship-to-ship transfers banned by United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR).
In March, 2018, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1718 the North Korean-flagged tanker as a vessel subject to assets freeze and prohibited from port entry.
Japan notified the Security Council Committee of this incident and shared information with related countries. Japan also expressed its interest to China which could have some relation to the small vessel of unknown nationality.