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Wednesday, February 28, 2001

skipper apologizes
to families

Waddle delivers 13 letters
of apology to the consulate
in Honolulu

Associated Press

Bullet Waddle delivers apology
Bullet Families take priority
Bullet Escort may testify
Bullet Pearl subs remaining
Bullet Greeneville citizens support

TOKYO -- The captain of the U.S. submarine that sank a Japanese fishing boat and left nine missing and presumed dead apologized during a visit to Japan's consulate in Honolulu, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said today.

Also today, the U.S. Navy's No. 2 officer said the United States is prepared to begin negotiating with Japan to compensate for the possible loss of lives in connection with the incident.

"We are quite ready to begin this (compensation) process when the families (of the nine missing Japanese) determine that they feel comfortable doing it," Adm. William Fallon said.

Despite repeated apologies from U.S. officials, including President Bush, the families of the nine missing Japanese have insisted amends cannot be made without a direct apology from Cmdr. Scott Waddle.

Waddle visited Foreign Ministry vice-minister Yoshio Mochizuki yesterday and hand-delivered 13 letters of apology addressed to each of the nine families as well as Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and others.

"Cmdr. Waddle wrote letters of apology and asked that they be delivered as soon as possible," Foreign Ministry official Atushi Kaifu said. "Mochizuki agreed to do so."

Other letters were addressed to the captain of the Japanese fishing trawler, the governor of the prefecture (state) where the missing lived, and the principal of the school that four missing students attended.

The apologies came as Fallon visited Japan to apologize to Japanese officials and the families of the missing.

"I'm here to request in the most humble and sincere manner that you accept the apology of the people of the United States and the U.S. Navy, as a personal representative of President Bush," Fallon told relatives gathered at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Tokyo.

His message was well received.

"I felt the envoy was sincere, and it was the most satisfying meeting we have had yet (with American officials)," said Ryosuke Terata, whose 17-year-old son is among the missing.

Fallon said he would go to the boat's home port tomorrow to meet with one representative of each family of the missing.

"The message I will deliver is very simple," he said. "I came seeking their understanding, seeking their acceptance of our apology."

The meetings are meant to calm anger over the Feb. 9 accident off Hawaii, when the USS Greeneville, practicing an emergency surfacing maneuver, smashed into the Ehime Maru and sank it within minutes.

Washington is also hoping to silence criticism that the United States has not apologized sufficiently and has been slow to disclose details on the accident.

Of the 35 people aboard the Ehime Maru, which was operated by a high school for aspiring sailors in Uwajima, about 430 miles southwest of Tokyo, all but nine were rescued.

Missing and presumed dead are four 17-year-old students, two teachers and three crew members. Their families have repeatedly demanded that the bodies be recovered, and have called for the captain of the submarine to make a direct apology.

Fallon said yesterday that raising a boat the size of the 499-ton, 190-foot Ehime Maru from 2,003 feet has never been done, to the best of his knowledge, but he said the possibility was being evaluated.

The Navy said it expects to complete its evaluation of the possibility of raising the wreck by March 12.

Japan tells United States,
families take priority

By Janine Tully

High-ranking Navy and Japanese officials have stressed the need to take a conciliatory approach in dealing with the aftermath of the sinking of the Ehime Maru.

Pacific Fleet Commander in Chief Adm. Thomas B. Fargo met with Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yoshio Mochizuki yesterday morning at Pearl Harbor for half an hour.

According to a Japanese government official who asked not to be named, Mochizuki told Fargo the United States must do everything possible to comply with the requests of the Japanese families if friendly relations between the two countries are to continue.

Specifically, the families want USS Greeneville Capt. Scott Waddle to publicly apologize and the Ehime Maru to be raised, he said. They also want a full account of the investigation.

At the meeting, Mochizuki once again reiterated the families' wishes the boat be raised from its resting site 2,003 feet below the surface.

The Japanese fishing training vessel sank 10 miles south of Diamond Head Feb. 9 after colliding with the fast-attack nuclear submarine Greeneville. Nine of the 35 people aboard the Ehime were lost at sea.

A team of Japanese maritime experts went out Monday to observe the Navy's undersea surveys. The group also gathered data from the Navy, which it will take back to Japan for analysis.

Fargo said that the Navy will do its utmost to meet Japan's requests, including bringing in state-of-the-art technology to work on the salvage, the Japanese official said.

Fargo then apologized for not starting Navy court of inquiry proceedings earlier than March 5, saying such a complex hearing required thorough planning, said the official. Fargo speculated the proceedings will last longer than usual.

Fargo also told Mochizuki that he will ask Navy officials whether the Japanese families can attend investigation hearings.

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