Thursday, June 7, 2001

Ehime Maru sinking

choir, Cayetano
pay respects
in Uwajima

One of the songs was dedicated
to the Ehime Maru victims

Kyodo news service

UWAJIMA, Japan >> Gov. Ben Cayetano and a Kamehameha Schools Choir came here today to extend condolences over the Feb. 9 collision between a fisheries training ship and a U.S. submarine in which nine Japanese were lost at sea.

The governor, accompanied by his wife, Vicki, met the victims' families and city government officials.

The choir of Kamehameha's elementary school sang seven songs including one dedicated to the victims, called, "We Send This Aloha to You." The song was composed by Lynell Bright, a music teacher at the school. The choir sang six other songs, including a Japanese song "Haru Ga Kita" (Spring has come).

Cayetano said people in Hawaii had also felt grief about the collision and that he hopes the choir's songs will help the victims' families cope with their loss.

After listening to the songs, Tatsuyoshi Mizuguchi, father of Takeshi, 17, one of the nine who died, said, "I have been feeling depressed for several months, but a splendid harmony soothed my heart. I really appreciate it."

The Ehime Maru was sunk by the submarine Greeneville in a collision during the sub's rapid surfacing demonstration for civilian guests aboard.

The nine Japanese lost in the accident include four students of the high school based here, two of their teachers and three crewmen of the Ehime Maru.

Cayetano left Hawaii Sunday and traveled with a delegation including tourism officials and local politicians. The governor planned to return to Hawaii on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, some relatives of those lost at sea visited government offices in Tokyo today with their lawyers to deliver letters stating their requests for a full-scale probe, the relatives said.

In the letters, the relatives ask the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to press the United States to disclose more information about the collision and to continue its own investigations into the cause of the accident.

They also asked the central government to discuss with the U.S. measures to prevent similar accidents and for support in their negotiations with the U.S. over compensation.

The letters say the government has ceased its own efforts to find the cause of the collision and note that the sunken ship has not been salvaged nearly four months after the accident.

The relatives also say in the letters that they are suffering from mental trauma.

The letters were delivered through government officials to Prime Minister Koizumi, Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, the speaker of the House of Representatives, president of the House of Councillors and leaders of political parties.

The father of Yusuke Terata, one of the nine who went missing in the collision, said at a news conference, "Why does the government fail to convey our request to the U.S. as we have demanded a thorough investigation (into the cause of the collision)? I believe more new truths will come up."

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