Why did the Japanese civil servant sail to his death from South Korea in an inflatable dinghy?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 2:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 February, 2014, 3:03am

Mystery surrounds the motives of a Japanese bureaucrat found dead after apparently attempting to sail approximately 50 kilometres from South Korea to Japan last month in a small inflatable dinghy.

The man has not been named by the Japanese government on the grounds of privacy. All that is publicly known about the victim is that he was a 30-year-old employee of the Cabinet Office in Tokyo who had been studying at a graduate school in the United States since last summer.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said it was investigating the case, which he agreed was "curious", but declined to identify the victim.

The bureaucrat had been granted permission by the ministry to attend an economic conference in Seoul in January.

The Cabinet Office said it had heard nothing from its employee after he arrived in Seoul.

On January 18 the crew of a pleasure boat off the city of Kitakyushu reported to the Coast Guard that they had spotted an apparently unconscious man in a rubber dinghy drifting near the outer breakwater.

Weather conditions subsequently deteriorated, the 7th Regional Coast Guard said, and they were unable to conduct a search for a further day. When a patrol boat did reach the area, they discovered the three-metre boat had capsized and the occupant was missing.

In a subsequent search by divers, the man's body was located on the seabed. He was wearing a black jacket and carrying South Korean currency.

Japan's Fuji TV has reported that the man purchased the inflatable dinghy on January 6 while he was in Seoul and arranged for it to be shipped to Busan. The following day, he arrived in the port city and bought an outboard motor.