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Japan Satisfied with Sub Verdict

April 24, 2001

TOKYO (AP) _ The Japanese government said Tuesday that it will not demand tougher punishment for the captain of a U.S. submarine that sank a Japanese high school fisheries training vessel. Relatives of the victims complained that the verdict was too lenient.

USS Greeneville Cmdr. Scott Waddle was given a letter of reprimand Monday as punishment for the February collision that killed nine people aboard the Ehime Maru in waters off Hawaii. He was also told he would have to forfeit half of his pay for two months, but that punishment was suspended _ meaning Waddle will receive full pay until he retires on Oct. 1.

``It’s unforgivable that the matter should be settled with this sort of punishment after so many questions were left unanswered by the court of inquiry,″ said Ryosuke Terata, whose 17-year-old son, Yusuke, was lost in the accident.

Some said the decision to reprimand Waddle only confirmed their suspicion that the U.S. Navy would protect its own.

``Since the captain was being judged by his peers, I wasn’t expecting much to come out of the trial,″ said Kazuhiko Segawa, son of 60-year-old Hirotaka Segawa, chief of communications aboard the Ehime Maru and one of the accident’s survivors.

Those killed in the Feb. 9 collision included four students and two teachers from a fisheries high school in Uwajima. Some officials in the city 470 miles southwest of Tokyo also felt Waddle’s punishment was not strong enough.

``Unfortunately, I cannot help but feel the punishment may be too light,″ said Mayor Hirohisa Ishibashi.

``Families and students are demanding that Waddle come to Uwajima and apologize,″ he said. ``But I am too agitated at this point to say, please come.″

There were strong feelings in Japan that Waddle should face a court-martial for failing to detect the Ehime Maru before his submarine surfaced rapidly in a demonstration of emergency procedures for the benefit of 16 civilians aboard. All other officers of the Greeneville also escaped courts-martial.

``It is regrettable our feeling that the sub’s captain should be tried in a military court did not materialize,″ said Motoyasu Ota, a city official in Uwajima.

But the Japanese government said Tuesday the punishment issue was closed.

``The Japanese government considers that the U.S. government has acknowledged all responsibilities regarding this incident,″ said Kazuhiko Koshikawa, spokesman for Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

``With the measures taken against Waddle and others, their liability has been made clear,″ Kazuhiko said. ``These decisions were made under U.S. rules and the Japanese government does not at this point plan to make any specific demand to the United States.″

Japan will, however, continue to ask that ``sincere steps″ be taken in negotiating remaining issues such as compensation for the families of the victims and raising of the Ehime Maru, he said.

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