Sunday, October 21, 2001

Parents still seeking
answers in sinking
of Ehime Maru

Sunken tomb surrenders fifth identity

By Leila Fujimori

One by one, the bodies from the Ehime Maru are being recovered and identified.

Each time, Ryosuke and Masumi Terata hope their son Yusuke's remains will be found.

But each time, they have been disappointed.

Ryosuke Terata, 45, told the Star-Bulletin through an interpreter that he knows there's a high probability his son may not be found.

"My hope is that he's found," said Masumi Terata, 43, with her eyes closed.

Ryosuke Terata said the custom in Japan is to take the body home and bury the remains.

"Therefore, our insistence on recovery was very strong," he said. "We have a strong feeling even to find personal effects to take to the homeland."

In an interview at their Honolulu hotel, Masumi Terata likened her family's situation to that of families of the World Trade Center attack victims.

"They all felt the same, to look for the body ... whatever their beliefs, ethnicity or religion," she said.

But she hasn't prepared for any other outcome.

"The accident was a huge shock, and it took time for the reality to sink in," she said. "The reality of my son not being there -- the shock would be just tremendous."

But the Teratas want to take home more than their son's remains.

They want answers.

"My son ... lost his life, not even knowing what happened," Masumi Terata said. "What we can do is try to find the truth of what happened to him and all about the accident.

"No matter how long it would take, that's what we can do for him. We don't want to compromise. That's the strongest feeling I have," she said.

After attending the Navy court of inquiry for Cmdr. Scott Waddle, former skipper of the USS Greeneville, the submarine that rammed the Ehime Maru Feb. 9, a lot of questions remain unanswered, Ryosuke Terata said.

Despite repeated written inquiries to the Navy and three meetings in Japan, Terata said he still has not gotten satisfactory answers as to why and how the accident occurred and why civilians were being entertained on board the submarine. And he believes there may be something that remains to be discovered.

"They only talk about compensation," he said.

Masumi Terata said: "My son, I raised for 17 years, is my life's purpose, my life's mission. His life is not compensated by money. Money cannot satisfy the loss of my son."

Ryosuke Terata said Waddle got off too easily.

"From my point of view as a Japanese, what happened was considered to be gross negligent death," Terata said. "It's unimaginable that Waddle was discharged from the Navy with retirement pay. That's unbelievable for me. In Japan, if this happens, you'd be in jail."

Masumi Terata objected to the forum of a Navy court of inquiry, rather than a civilian court.

"Waddle was tried within the Navy court and the victims are all civilians; they are all high school kids. No military people suffered," she said.

"From my point of view he is 100 percent, totally guilty."

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