Japan says its military has witnessed a cargo transfer between China and North Korea on the high seas that it suspects violates United Nations economic sanctions on Pyongyang.
The foreign ministry said Tuesday a maritime surveillance plane and an escort ship spotted a North Korean-flagged tanker, identified as the Yu Jong 2, floating alongside a small ship last Friday about 250 kilometers off the Chinese city of Shanghai in the East China Sea.
The nationality of the other ship is unknown, but the ministry said the words "Min Ning De You 078" were written in Chinese on the ship's bow, which translates as an oil ship from Ningde city in China's coastal Fujian province.
The ministry says it has reported the suspected transfer to the U.N. Security Council. This is the third such incident reported by Tokyo this year.
Pyongyang is subject to a series of U.N. Security Council sanctions over the regime's continued testing of its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons, including one prohibiting all member states from facilitating or engaging in ship-to-ship transfers of goods to or from North Korean-flagged vessels.