MATSUYAMA, Ehime Pref. – Relatives of nine Japanese lost at sea in the Feb. 9 collision between the Japanese fisheries training ship Ehime Maru and a U.S. submarine on Tuesday criticized the U.S. Navy decision not to hold a court-martial.
Missing and presumed dead are four students of Uwajima Fisheries High School, Ehime Prefecture, two of their teachers and three crew members from the ship, which sank after being struck by the submarine Greeneville off Oahu Island.
Ryosuke Terata, 45, father of student Yusuke, one of the missing, said he cannot accept the navy decision to honorably discharge the sub’s former skipper, Cmdr. Scott Waddle.
“If (he were) in Japan, he would be fired and indicted on charges such as professional negligence resulting in death,” he said.
Teruo Terata, uncle of 17-year-old Yusuke, said, “I didn’t even feel like watching the TV news.
“They say reprimand, but the reality is (Waddle) will virtually get an honorable retirement,” the 59-year-old said. “Yusuke was victimized. I cannot find words to express my anger.”
Kazuo Nakata, 55, father of high school teacher Jun, released a statement saying, “Is slashing salaries a really heavy punishment? It is an outrageous decision that neglects the feelings of the victims’ families.”
Nakata said he wanted the navy to court-martial Waddle, adding, “I cannot help feeling that the way this has ended is a farce.”
Toshio Kamado, 50, father of student Atsushi who was among the 26 rescued following the collision, criticized the navy’s decision as “too lenient.”
A third-year high school student who was a classmate of one of the four missing students said he wanted the navy to impose a stiffer punishment.
“I want the former skipper of the Greeneville to visit us soon and apologize,” he said.
Ehime Gov. Moriyuki Kato also expressed displeasure over the navy’s decision. Kato said at a news conference, “I assume the families who lost their kin will not accept the result. (The navy) should impose the heaviest possible punishment (on Waddle).”
Uwajima Mayor Hirohisa Ishibashi also voiced dissatisfaction, saying public opinion over the navy’s decision will also suffer in the United States.
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