MSDF pair face two years over fatal collision

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Prosecutors Monday sought two years’ imprisonment without labor for two Maritime Self-Defense Force officers on trial over a 2008 collision between an MSDF destroyer and a small fishing boat off Chiba Prefecture that killed two fishermen.

Lt. Cmdrs. Tomohisa Nagaiwa, 37, and Keitaro Ushirogata, 38, stand accused of professional negligence resulting in deaths in the collision involving the 7,750-ton destroyer Atago and the 7.3-ton Seitoku Maru.

In the hearing at the Yokohama District Court, the prosecutors claimed the two caused the collision because they had “too much confidence” that they wouldn’t make a mistake.

The two, who have been suspended from duty since being charged with professional negligence resulting in deaths, pleaded not guilty in court last August, and the defense team is scheduled to make a final statement next Monday.

The Yokohama District Court is expected to hand down a ruling this spring.

Prosecutors claim Nagaiwa failed to keep a proper watch and kept the destroyer on autopilot on Feb. 19, 2008, after he relieved Ushirogata, who had wrongly told him in handing over the watch that the fishing boats in the area were stopped and were hauling up catches.