The Department of Overseas Labor has confirmed that six Vietnamese sailors decided to ditch their jobs on a Taiwanese fishing boat by leaping into Japanese waters, last Saturday.
Though they remain missing, the search for their bodies has been called off and their boat has left Japanese waters.
The men had recently been sent to work on the ship by the Hanoi-based Tourist, Trade and Labor Export Joint Stock Company (TTLC), according to the department.
Five of the men were identified as residents of Ha Tinh Province--to wit: Nguyen Tien Tinh, 23, Pham Luong Khanh, 20, Tran Dinh Diem, 19, Thieu Sinh Song, 18, Nguyen Van Tu, 23.
Nguyen Van Quoc, 19, was identified as a resident of Quang Binh Province.
The Japan Times reported that the sailors jumped into the Tsuruga Strait off the southern coast of Hokkaido after the fishing boat entered the strait to take shelter from a storm at around 8:50pm on Saturday.
The captain of the boat immediately informed the Japanese Coast Guard of the news, prompting the police to scour the area. After three days of continued helicopter patrols, they've decided to halt their search.
Nguyen Huu Phong, deputy director of TTLC, said it sent seven Vietnamese workers to work on the Taiwanese boat.
The company has successfully contacted the remaining sailor onboard.
The sailor, whose name was not revealed, said the six sailors had discussed a plan to flee the boat despite the fact that they had no significant problems with their working conditions.
The group asked him to join the plan, but he refused to do so.
Ha Thi Liem, Diem's mother, told Thanh Nien her son may have fled the Taiwanese boat in the hopes of getting to Japan and finding a well-paying job.
She said some people in her town had also fled foreign fishing boat employment by jumping into Japanese waters and swimming to shore. They all got well-paying jobs, she added.
Tran Thi Chung, the mother of a sailor named Khanh, said her son called home on October 4 and said the work he was doing on the Taiwanese boat was not too hard.
On Wednesday, the boat left Japan.