The Yokohama District Court on May 11 acquitted two Maritime Self-Defense Force officers formerly stationed aboard the 7,750-ton Aegis destroyer Atago in connection with the Atago's collision with the 7.3-ton trawler Seitoku Maru off Chiba Prefecure on Feb. 19, 2008. The collision killed the two fishermen aboard the trawler.

The ruling contradicts the January 2009 judgment by the Yokohama Maritime Accident Tribunal and the Defense Ministry's May 2009 final report. The tribunal and the ministry blamed the Atago for the collision, saying that because it saw the trawler to its right, it had a duty to avoid a collision under the Law for Prevention of Collision at Sea.

For the trial, the prosecution prepared a chart of the trawler's track ostensibly based on testimony by another fishing boat captain, saying that he claimed that shortly before the collision, the Seitoku Maru was three nautical miles and seven degrees to the left from his boat. But the captain told the court that he had never testified in such concrete terms.