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France memorial honors Japanese killed in sinking of WWI cargo ship

JIJI

A memorial service for the crew of a Japanese commercial cargo ship killed during World War I in a German submarine attack in French waters was held Wednesday in Brest, northwestern France.

Five members of the crew died and two others went missing in waters off western France on Nov. 30, 1916, after the Nagata Maru ship sank with a crew of 49 following the submarine attack.

The memorial service, near the site of the attack, was organized by a group of families of French sailors killed in war and or in accidents, to mark the centenary of the war’s inception.

Relatives offered silent prayers in Brest’s Kerfautras Cemetery, where the five Japanese crew members are buried.

According to the organizer of the event, the 3,521-ton Nagata Maru was sailing off Ushant Island in the English Channel to transport Japanese rice from Kobe to the western French port of Le Havre.

Survivors were rescued by a nearby Swedish transport vessel. The hull of the Japanese ship is still believed to be on the seabed below.

At the time of the attack, Germany was indiscriminately firing on ships from Japan and other enemy countries, aiming to cripple the British and French economies. In the wake of the offensive, however, the United States joined the war as Germany’s adversary.