South Korea's Yonhap news agency says Tokyo is set this week to transfer 9 North Korean defectors who mistakenly entered Japan earlier this month while trying to reach the South aboard a small wooden boat.
The defectors, including 3 children, were found September 13 adrift near the Japanese port city of Kanazawa and have remained in a government immigration facility while Japanese authorities probed the case. Yonhap quoted an unidentified foreign ministry official Sunday as saying the exact time of the defectors' departure from Japan was not yet known.
Japanese news reports two weeks ago quoted the leader of the refugee group as saying he had worked with the North Korean military and had fled with his family hoping to reach the South.
In a similar case four years ago, Japan sent a family of four North Korean defectors to South Korea, after a two week investigation.