The Vietnamese Embassy in Japan is working with local authorities to determine whether six Vietnamese sailors jumped off a Taiwanese fishing boat on Saturday.
The Japan Times reported that the sailors may have jumped off into the Tsuruga Strait off the southern coast of Hokkaido on Saturday, prompting Japanese Coast Guard vessels and aircraft to scour the area.
A body was found floating in waters roughly 5 kilometers from the village of Kazamaura, Aomori Prefecture, on Sunday afternoon, according to the Japan Coast Guard.
The rest remain missing.
Although the body appeared to be that of a man, it remains unclear whether he was one of the six men who are suspected of having leapt from a 2,944-ton Taiwan-registered boat.
A crew member claimed to have seen six of his Vietnamese colleagues, aged 18 to 23, leap into the strait between Aomori and Hokkaido without life vests on at around 8:50 p.m. on Saturday, the Japan Coast Guard said.
No abnormalities or trouble had been reported on the ship.
The men had recently been sent to work on the ship by the Tourist, Trade and Labor Export Joint Stock Company (TTLC), according to an announcement from the Department of Overseas Labor under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
The department confirmed that six workers had jumped off the boat, while one remained onboard.
The names of the missing workers have not yet been reported.