What We Can Learn from the KAZU I Incident | FRIDAY DIGITAL

What We Can Learn from the KAZU I Incident

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Could the danger have been avoided?

If I had known this in advance, I would never have boarded the ship.

The KAZU I with 26 passengers and crew went missing off the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido. Subsequent investigations revealed that Shiretoko Yusankisen, the operator of the KAZU I, had left its radio antenna broken, There were four companies operating sightseeing boats on The Shiretoko Peninsula from Utoro Harbor and they were supposed to operate together so that they could rescue each other in the event of an unforeseen emergency. The other three companies were also involved in this incident.

This time only the KAZU I was sailing, while the other three companies had suspended their voyage. Last year alone, the ship had run aground twice.

I don’t want to be involved in such an accident. You can take a cruise ship or a balloon ride, go canoeing on rivers and lakes, or go trekking. There are so many things I want to experience on my trip. What should we pay attention to use optional tours safely and enjoyably on our trip?

“I would say that there is much less dangerous if the tours are embedded with a major travel agency. If an accident should occur, there is a possibility of a claim for damages, so the past performance and safety management should be carefully examined before signing a contract. The same goes for flight cancellation decisions. “

says Kotaro Toriumi, an aviation and travel analyst.

But what about individual travelers?

“You should check the website of the company you are planning to use,” says Takataro Toriumi, an airline, and travel analyst. If there are other companies in the same industry, it is a good idea to look at their websites as well and compare them.

If the price is too low, you should be wary. Sometimes prices are low because the staff is unprofessional and can be hired at low labor costs. It is advisable to read through the company’s website, including the reason behind its low price.

The photo shows Seiichi Katsurada, president of Shiretoko Sightseeing Boat, leaving the ship after giving a briefing to the families of passengers involved in the sinking of the boat (photo: Kyodo News).

Obtaining local information from the place where we stayed

I see. However, some things are difficult to determine from the website alone.

What I often do is ask the people at the hotel where I am staying to tell me about it. When I make a reservation, if I want to take a sightseeing boat, I ask them for any recommendations.

If they are local, their recommendation will be more reliable and may not be available on the internet. 

Nowadays, it is common to book hotels and other accommodations through reservation websites, but even in such cases, a phone call can be made after making a reservation.

With the internet and local information, I think the risk can be reduced considerably.

If you are overseas, the best thing to do is to ask the concierge at the hotel if he or she is confident in your language skills or if they speak Japanese, and ask them to make the reservation for you.

If something should happen, the reputation of the hotel that referred you to such a place will be damaged. I am sure they will refer you to a place you can trust.

If you are not confident in your language skills and there is no Japanese-speaking staff, he recommends visiting a Japanese travel agency that has local offices.

Accidents on pleasure boats are surprisingly common overseas. The photo shows the sinking of a cruise ship in Hungary in 2019, in which 33 Korean tourists and two local crew members were killed (Photo: Afro)

It’s hard to imagine an accident on a sightseeing boat.

Perhaps we have been too careless with our booking applications. Could this accident have been avoided if we have been keener and more prepared with the information before our trip?

“It would never have occurred to me that a sightseeing boat would capsize,” he said. And the course this time was not going out to sea, but along the wharf and back to the shore. I am sure the passengers had no idea of ​​the dangers involved.

However, when you are dealing with nature, you never know what might happen. If there was anything we could have done before departure, it would have been to check the weather forecast.  I heard that there were warnings of strong winds and waves that day. If you think it’s not safe, canceling sightseeing is one of the options.

However, traveling is for enjoyment, so you don’t think about the danger. I don’t want an accident like this to happen again. “

When a major accident occurs, the best thing we can do is to learn from it so that the tragedy will not be repeated.

Kotaro Toriumi is an aviation and travel analyst and a part-time lecturer at the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, Teikyo University.

  • Interview and text by Izumi Nakagawa

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