Transport safety body says accidents involving water scooters, banana boats on the rise in Japan


The Japan Transport Safety Board, an affiliate of the transport ministry, has issued a warning as accidents involving water scooters have been rising recently.

In the 10 years to 2018, a total of 454 accidents involving the vehicles occurred, leaving 59 people dead and 510 others injured, according to the board. Water scooter accidents tend to peak in August.

The number of accidents totaled 52 in 2016, 34 in 2017 and 47 in 2018.

There has been an increase in accidents happening when banana boats, or banana-shaped inflatable recreational boats, and similar items are towed behind water scooters. The number of such accidents involving them totaled 21 last year, up from 11 in 2017.

Off the city of Awaji in Hyogo Prefecture in August last year, a banana boat being towed by a water scooter was hit by another water scooter. One of the passengers riding on the boat died, and five others were injured.

In August 2015, a sofa-shaped float towed by a water scooter hit a platform used for oyster farming off the city of Itoshima in Fukuoka Prefecture, and all four people on the float suffered injuries.

About 30 percent of the 454 accidents happened on lakes and rivers, including 61 in Lake Biwa, in Shiga Prefecture, which is Japan’s biggest lake. Another 19 occurred in Lake Inawashiro in Fukushima Prefecture and 14 on the Sagami River in Kanagawa Prefecture.

An official of the board called for safe operations of water scooters, pointing out that many of the accidents involved water scooters being driven too close to other vessels or traveling too fast.