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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Leaving Ehime Maru is the right decision

There were undoubtedly sighs of relief from Tokyo to Washington when word came that the families of those lost on the Ehime Maru no longer want the fishing vessel raised from the ocean floor.

The Ehime Maru sank, with nine lives lost, after a collision with the U.S. submarine USS Greeneville in Hawaiian waters.

The skipper of the Greeneville has already apologized for the incident, as have the Navy and the U.S. government. But until now, there was strong pressure from the families and from others to raise the Ehime Maru and recover the missing students and sailors.

The United States was exploring the possibility of that option. It would have been a terrifically difficult and expensive effort.

The Ehime Maru came from a small Japanese fishing community that has sent its men to sea for generations. It is a dangerous business. They know that every time their sons and fathers leave the docks, it may be the last time they will see them.

It would be far better to leave the nine buried at sea with the ship they loved. If there are resources available, they should be used for compensation for the families of those lost and — perhaps — in scholarships or other support for the fishing schools of Uwajima so this tradition can continue.