Ehime Maru anniversary marked
By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
During a tribute yesterday at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, sorrow mixed with friendships forged from tragedy in a memorial service for the boys and men lost aboard the Ehime Maru.
The ship carried 35 students, teachers and crew from Uwajima Fisheries High School in Ehime Prefecture, about 420 miles southwest of Tokyo. Nine of those aboard were killed in the accident; four were high school students.
The memorial service began at 1:43 p.m. yesterday, two years from the moment of the collision.
Framed by a blue sky and the deeper blue of the ocean beyond them, 27 family members of the dead and five survivors and their families lined up to place flowers beneath the Ehime Maru anchor, now framed as a memorial in the waterfront park.
Tatsuyoshi Mizuguchi, father of Takeshi Mizuguchi, whose body was the only one not recovered during a deep-sea recovery effort by the U.S. Navy, said he and the other families appreciated the help and support they had found in Hawai'i.
"In the two years since the accident," Mizuguchi said through an interpreter, "I have made many visits to Hawai'i, and each time I feel my heart grow softer."
The families were followed by nearly 100 well-wishers, including the high school Japanese clubs of Saint Louis and Iolani schools, representatives of Uwajima Fisheries High School, athletes from the recently formed Ehime and Hawaii Junior Baseball teams, the Japan-America Society of Hawaii, and government and military officials from Japan and the United States.
The Saint Louis and Iolani students have been taking turns cleaning the area around the memorial on weekends. They collect the flowers left there each day by visitors and pass them on to the Hawaii Pilots Association. The tugboat pilots scatter them into the sea.
Ehime Prefecture Vice Gov. Maeda Mizue said a new Ehime Maru would soon sail from Japan to Hawai'i.
Hawai'i economic development director Ted Liu said he was grateful for the new friendships and strong ties that had formed between the people of Ehime and Hawai'i, and Japan and the United States.
Interpreter Toshi Erikson contributed to this report.