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The Battle of Amami-Oshima – also known, less catchily, as the “Spy Ship Incident in the Sea Southwest of Kyushu” – is not one of Asia’s better-known confrontations, but it’s certainly one of the more bizarre. In the early hours of 22 December 2001, a group of Japan Coast Guard (jcg) boats found themselves embroiled in a high-speed chase and six-hour shootout with a North Korean vessel close to the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima. A thousand rounds of ammunition were used during the gunfight, and at one point the North Koreans started firing…


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