Saturday, February 17, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 17, 2001

Japanese town leaders demand U.S. apology

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Graphic: Searching for the Ehime Maru
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Tribute to the Missing
Previous stories

Associated Press

UWAJIMA, Japan — Officials in Uwajima today demanded a direct apology from the U.S. military and support for the victims of a collision between a U.S. submarine and a fishing boat owned by a local high school.

The town’s 25-member municipal assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a direct apology, full disclosure of the crash’s causes, and medical and psychological support for the victims and their families.

The USS Greeneville, practicing a quick surfacing maneuver, smashed into the Ehime Maru, which was carrying high school students on a fisheries training mission, and sent it to the bottom of the sea.

Of the 35 people aboard, 26 were rescued. Four students from the school here remained among the nine people missing despite an intense weeklong search.

Officials said the resolution was to be passed on to the provincial government and then handed over to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Anger over the accident has yet to abate, and several newspapers published editorials critical of the U.S. military’s handling of it.

"It’s been already one week and we don’t hear even a word of apology from the captain of the submarine," said the Mainichi, a major Japanese newspaper.

Anger has been particularly strong in Uwajima, however, over the piecemeal release of information.

"With a civilian witness who went on the record, what was going on inside the submarine has been slowly emerging," said a commentary in the local Ehime newspaper. "The U.S. military has denied the direct link between the civilians and the accident, but we refuse to accept it."

The U.S. military has said that two civilian guests were at control stations of the submarine during the maneuver.

A preliminary report by the U.S. military was expected in the next few days, according to Pentagon officials.

Disappointed and exhausted after a week of unsuccessful searching for their loved ones, two family members — the father of 17-year-old student Takeshi Taniguchi, and an aunt of crew member Toshimichi Furuya — were to return here from Honolulu later today.

Yesterday Moriyuki Kato, the governor of Ehime, urged the United States to continue efforts to search for the missing and promptly disclose information about the investigation. He delivered a letter to U.S. Ambassador Thomas Foley during his meeting with U.S. regional Consul-General Robert Ludan.

Ludan was the first U.S. official to visit the prefecture and issue a public apology.

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