It has been more than two weeks since the sightseeing ship “KAZU I” (hereafter referred to as “Kazu One”) sank in the Sea of Okhotsk and 26 passengers and crew members were thrown into the cold sea. Many are still missing.Seiichi Katsurada, 58, president of the operating company Shiretoko Sightseeing Boat, along with the ship’s captain, Tokuyuki Toyoda, 54, are under investigation for manslaughter, but their actions have not been restricted. Although he is responsible for the ship that caused the accident, he is free to go. A resident near the port of Utoro, Kazwan’s home port, told us, “I have been asked to give an explanation to the bereaved families and to speak to their lawyers”.
He seems to be busy holding briefings for the bereaved families and meeting with lawyers, but he does not seem to be exhausted. It is highly doubtful that he understands the gravity of the accident.
This tragedy was not an accident. In the background, investigations by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism and the Japan Coast Guard have revealed President Katsurada’s grossly negligent management practices. The following is a list of the facts that have come to light.
Kazuwan ran aground last June, and Captain Toyoda was referred to prosecutors on charges of professional negligence and endangering pedestrians.
The bow of the Kazwan had cracks several tens of centimeters in diameter due to repeated accidents.
The antenna of the office, which was set up to communicate with the ship, was damaged, making radio communication impossible.
The captain had been using a cell phone to communicate with the ship, but the cell phone owned by Captain Toyoda had no signal on most of the routes.
Even in bad weather, Ship Out
President Katsurada is involved in the operation of several inns in Shiretoko in addition to the sightseeing boats. Recently, however, due to the effects of the new coronavirus and other factors, he was in a very bad business condition. The antenna in his office was broken, but he did not repair it, probably because he was stingy with the cost.
President Katsurada was always prioritizing profits letting the ships sail even if the sea was a bit unruly. At an apology press conference on April 27, President Katsurada said, “Weather charts are not always correct because of natural phenomena,” but it is possible that he did so intentionally.
Immediately after the accident, President Katsurada was not at his office. He had gone to pick up his wife who was to be discharged from the hospital after giving birth. It was after 3:00 p.m., more than an hour after Kazu I had been out of reach, when he appeared at the office.
He said he was not specifically assigned to handle the accident. President Katsurada may be a businessman, but he is a ship amateur and probably didn’t know what to do.
As of May 11, of the 26 victims, 12 remain missing. President Katsurada held an explanatory meeting for the families of the passengers on May 7. He is reported to have said that he would compensate up to 100 million yen per passenger. However, President Katsurada’s expression did not show any sense of remorse. According to the May 19 issue of Shukan Shincho, all compensation will be paid by the insurance company.
According to the magazine, Shiretoko Yusen had only purchased the minimum insurance coverage of 30 million yen. In April of this year, the insurance amount was accidentally raised to a maximum of 100 million yen. 100 million yen is a reasonable amount of compensation for an accident. President Katsuraida’s pocket will not be hurt at all. It has also been decided that the cost of the Coast Guard investigation will be covered by taxpayers’ money. President Katsurada must be relieved by now.
At the briefing, President Katsurada repeatedly apologized, saying, “I’m Sorry”. We hope that he will show his sincerity to those who lost their relatives by his actions, not just his words.