Twenty-six North Koreans are in Japanese custody after being pulled from a sinking cargo ship off the coast of Japan late Wednesday.
The Japanese Coast Guard went to the rescue after receiving a distress signal from the ship, which had run into difficulties off Japan's Kyushu Prefecture, 38 miles (61 kilometers) southwest of the Goto Islands, a spokesman said.
The ship's crew members had evacuated and were on life boats when the Japanese Coast Guard reached them.
By early Thursday morning, the ship had completely sunk. All crew members are safe and uninjured, the spokesman said.
Japan does not have formal diplomatic relations with North Korea.
In late 2015, more than 12 so-called "ghost ships" washed up on Japan's coast.
The vessels, all of which had dead and decaying bodies inside, are believed to have originated in North Korea.