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Operator of missing Hokkaido boat apologizes for causing fatal accident

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“I made the final decision to depart on the condition that the captain make the decision to turn back if the seas got rough," Seiichi Katsurada, the president of Shiretoko Yuransen, said in his first press conference since the 19-ton Kazu I went missing Saturday. "In retrospect, my judgment was wrong."

Complete baloney! He would have told the captain to go and not to come back! All reports I have seen have said this clown was more interested in money than safety!

lock him up!

28 ( +36 / -8 )

Straight bowing to the floor, that's rarely seen in Japan today.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Keep bowing all the way to jail!

30 ( +36 / -6 )

Now he needs to apologize for giving such a weak and insincere apology long time after it was due.

25 ( +30 / -5 )

He will probably commit suicide which is normal in Japan.

Sad situation.

People that own businesses that have no experience or knowledge of how to safely operate shouldn't be in business.

Obviously its just all about making money.

-2 ( +23 / -25 )

Seems to have a history of being quiet the Employer. And a resistance to taking advice from experts trusting his own sense of superior self awareness first. What a piece of work.

19 ( +25 / -6 )

"I made the final decision to depart on the condition that the captain make the decision to turn back if the seas got rough,"

I’m 100% confident that’s a lie. The Master (skipper) is the one ultimately responsible for all lives on board and to think that he wanted to sail out while the office boss putting a condition on this would be ridiculous. It would be conflict of interest for both parties. They killed the master, crew and passengers out of greed and negligence.

34 ( +37 / -3 )

The captain is in charge and should have turned back.

Katsurada might have been hard nosed but usually people leave those types of businesses.

Just a sad event that should not have happened.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

All the head-on-the-ground bowing isn't going to make the liklihood of impending criminal charges and civil lawsuits headed his way.

14 ( +20 / -6 )

All reports I have seen have said this clown was more interested in money than safety!

Reviews matter. If you research a hotel or restaurant and find that it has several negative reviews, you probably wouldn't go unless it was cheap and you were strapped for money. This tour had several problems in the past with bad reviews. No way I would use this tour to propose or take my family out.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Kyo wa heiwa dayo neToday  07:28 am JST

He will probably commit suicide which is normal in Japan.

No it's not "normal". Otherwise it wouldn't make the news when it happens.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Lock him up.

Let him rot in jail.

Disgusting human.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Dogeza is a old-fashioned way to apologize. It seems no longer good one.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

"Mr Katsurada doesn't know anything about the sea or boats. Even in bad weather, he would order us to bring the boat out for the sake of sales," a 61-year-old deckhand who used to work for the company said.

Most of the local fishing boats remained in port due to anticipated high waves and strong winds on the day of the incident, and acquaintances warned Toyoda not to go out to sea.

More than half of Shiretoko Yuransen's staff, including crew, had quit over the past two years, leaving only three in recent days, according to people familiar with the company.

A skipper from another tour boat company said Katsurada's firm was cutting costs by letting go of experienced crew and hiring rookies at lower wages in their place.

"I told him he should leave some veteran crew, but he didn't listen," the 63-year-old said.

This sounds like the work of any typical ignorant J-company boss, who has no business being in that position.

Only being put in there through nepotism, ignorance or ruthlessly gaining dirty money.

This has definitely happened before in Japan and will most certainly happen again.

Especially that cutting costs from having experienced workers to getting cheaper rookies. Seen that way too often in Japan.

Yeah, keep bowing moron, hopefully every single family that lost someone on that boat, sues the hell out of you.

Hopefully he rots in jail for the rest of his life.

4 ( +17 / -13 )

Oh that makes it all ok then....and he knelt on the floor....he looked REEEAAAAAALLLLY sorry.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

"Mr Katsurada doesn't know anything about the sea or boats. Even in bad weather, he would order us to bring the boat out for the sake of sales," a 61-year-old deckhand who used to work for the company said.

This tells you everything.........

Japanese karoshi culture writ large

12 ( +21 / -9 )

jail term.one and only way.

bowing circuss on front of cameras is thing of past.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

"Mr Katsurada doesn't know anything about the sea or boats. Even in bad weather, he would order us to bring the boat out for the sake of sales," a 61-year-old deckhand who used to work for the company said

That's part and parcel of a typical Japanese company where the higher-ups have nary a clue about their job position; because they only got the job due to seniority. In worse cases it leads to tragedies like this.

The father of one of the victims said the apology, which came four days after the incident, was "just for show" and was "too late."

Agree wholeheartedly. The company waited until a press conference was called and the camera crews were poised and ready before apologizing. They did their whole song and dance, including a full dramatic floor bow, then it's back to business as usual, I bet. The president probably won't even get fired; he'll either resign out of "guilt" or he'll go toss his sorry carcass off a bridge somewhere. Either way, there'll be no solace for all the families that have lost their loved ones.

4 ( +16 / -12 )

Sad and tragic but will the families accept??

Bowing is one thing but the lose of life over greed is another.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

"Mr Katsurada doesn't know anything about the sea or boats. Even in bad weather, he would order us to bring the boat out for the sake of sales," a 61-year-old deckhand who used to work for the company said.

More than half of Shiretoko Yuransen's staff, including crew, had quit over the past two years, leaving only three in recent days, according to people familiar with the company.

A skipper from another tour boat company said Katsurada's firm was cutting costs by letting go of experienced crew and hiring rookies at lower wages in their place.

"I told him he should leave some veteran crew, but he didn't listen," the 63-year-old said.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the boat ran into trouble twice last year, once in May when it collided with a floating object, injuring three passengers, and another in June when it ran aground in shallow water shortly after leaving port.

-- Breaking news -- Greed trumps common sense in Japan -- Breaking News --

7 ( +17 / -10 )

"The father of one of the victims said the apology, which came four days after the incident, was "just for show" and was "too late."

Well, there is another reason this dirtbag took so long to apologize and talk about it -- because he was consulting with a lawyer about what to say to the families and public to avoid liability. You notice he was constantly flipping through comments, saying, "I don't have the numbers on me," and couldn't answer anything without reading it? You can't do that if you rush to address the issue and apologize when you SHOULD.

And this guy... I told my partner when the incident happened and it looked like most if not all passengers had died, "They're going to blame the dead captain. Guaranteed. Seem as JR blamed the 'inexperienced conductor' of the train for the deadly derailment in Amagasaki nearly 20 years ago." I'm only surprised he said he had ultimately responsibility.

If this guy is honest in his remorse, let's see him volunteer for prison time for each and every death, and to give up the company and pay everything to the families, etc. Instead I suspect we'll get a "Due to the failure of the company to protect the passengers in this regrettable incident, I am going to resign as company president," and of course he'll get a massive golden parachute, and while a judge will "recognize negligence on the part of the company, the former president is 'not guilty'." Families will be offered ¥100,000 - ¥1M unless the company files for bankruptcy and then just resumes operation under a new name.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

I watched the entire press conference. This guy is unbelievable! Sure he apologized, but what the article fails to mention is the context of what he communicated after that. He actually tried to push the blame to the customers! He did this by saying He only wished to provide them the satisfaction that they were yearning for. GTFO. You are responsible for their safety first and foremost. Such a greedy man, I only hope the justice system serves him the same level of concern and compassion that he showed his patrons and staff.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Most of the local fishing boats remained in port due to anticipated high waves and strong winds on the day of the incident, and acquaintances warned Toyoda not to go out to sea.

I live in a town that relies almost completely on fishing. When 漁師さんstay in port. You know to avoid the seas in all situations due to dangers at sea.. Even the captain who has a boating licence should have had enough sense not to even attempt going out to sea. Complete ignorance on this companies behalf. 安全第一!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

More than half of Shiretoko Yuransen's staff, including crew, had quit over the past two years, leaving only three in recent days, according to people familiar with the company

This paragraph is unfair. Almost every tour organization in Hokkaido has lost half or more of their staff over the last two years because of the pandemic. I have friends who run businesses in Hokkaido who have seen all of their workers quit because they can’t give them enough work to make it worthwhile.

Because of this paragraph, I have to doubt the objectivity of the rest of the story.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I don't really believe in this sort of apology, or people claiming to take full responsibility. He was a major contributor to the disaster, but these incidents are always a chain of events. What counts now is preventing the next such incident. Japan seems to be lax about safety for these tour boats. That should be changed right away. If they don't know what to do they should look at the US, UK, Canada, and other friends and see what they do. They can make Japan's safety even better! At least require AIS, EPIRBS, Life Jackets, actual Life Boats, and even cold water survival suits if they are going to do these tours in 5-degree C waters!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

OssanAmerica

Yes its a very common occurrence that Japanese commit suicide when a accident occurs due to their negligence .

Shaming is very common.

Suicide is common.

So it can be considered normal.

And yes it does make the news when it happens that people have committed suicide.

Last week was one

Happens frequently.

So don't be surprised if he takes his own life out of grief and shame.

Most people are aware of the fact that Japan has a long history of suicide.

Surprised you don't know that.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Early in my aviation career I worked for a guy like Katsurada. We always joked if there were ever an accident, his first call would be to his insurance company.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What kind of a idiot goes out in seas like that?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Matthew, that’s what is called the Swiss Cheese of Accident Causation…all the holes lined up to disaster.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"In retrospect, my judgment was wrong."

In prospect, too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If he were a samurai, he would have been expected to do more than just doahgeza.

Bushido would have required him to.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Too late. Many lives already taken. Put this guy in jail.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am glad he apologised, apparently sincerely, but that isn't really going to fix things either. I know that accidents happen, but there are unfortunate accidents and then there is just criminal negligence. If he did everything in his power to prevent the accident and it still happened, it might be a different story. He definitely didn't.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would add that since it's such a toxic/law evading workplace the local labor standards office (労働基準局) bears some responsibility too. The company reportedly had two accidents last year, including one that involved the captain of the sunken boat. If years and accidents go by for years and no-one gives a damn about how things are done in an obviously dangerous industry then that's an even bigger problem in my opinion. But that's Japan in essence. Shoganai. Shikataganai. Kore kara ganbarimasho!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Of course this is a tragedy for the poor people lost and their families. It is also a tragedy for the community and industry, and a strong argument for effective regulation so that prudent, experienced operators can stay in business, and good employees can keep working and developing their skills.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Seiichi Katsurada, President of Shiretoko Yuransen must be held fully accountable in a court of law, after a full and thorough criminal investigation in front of the relatives of the lost and confirmed deceased.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As I suggested on another thread, there should be regulations to prevent tourist boats from leaving port under certain weather and sea conditions. On the day when the boat left port, there had been a strong wind warning issued by the meteorological agency for the afternoon. But the company decided to operate nonetheless, in disregard of the bad weather forecast and other peers' advice not to operate.

A corporate's main concern may be its balance sheet (profit first), giving short shrift to the safety of customers or passengers. The meteorological agency must not be content with issuing weather forecasts only, saying it cares less about the consequences.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would've believed his apology if he had also brought the family katana and done the right thing.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

As a boat captain, I can tell you, you just can't mess with high seas or any doubt, especially in cold water like that. The seas can change in a heartbeat.

Very Sad for Everyone

1 ( +1 / -0 )

also with great programs like Windy.com, Give you almost like a minute by minute wind and everything else forecast. No Excuse!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@sangetsu03

More than half of Shiretoko Yuransen's staff, including crew, had quit over the past two years, leaving only three in recent days, according to people familiar with the company

This paragraph is unfair. Almost every tour organization in Hokkaido has lost half or more of their staff over the last two years because of the pandemic. I have friends who run businesses in Hokkaido who have seen all of their workers quit because they can’t give them enough work to make it worthwhile.

Because of this paragraph, I have to doubt the objectivity of the rest of the story.

Whatever the reason for the staff to leave (i.e. a "bad" company or "black kigyo" for example or lower client turnout due to COVID), it also begs the question as to: were there enough staff and was the remaining staff adequate to operate a company in an appropriate, but also a safe and secure way? The answers is in the article and the event it covers...

This article should also raise a lot of questions.

Over the last decade or so, more than frequently around GW (just before or in the middle of it) did we get charter bus accidents. Each time the reason was how the company was operating (i.e. not enough R&R for drivers in-between trips or not enough drivers to start with).

Over the last 3 decades have salaries been stuck, hence travelers do not have that much to spend on leisure.

In parallel, do travel companies hire staff at low prices, possibly too low to have adequate staffing figures and / or staff with adequate experience / skills.

The 2 points above are a recipe for disaster.

Personally, whenever I travel I never go for the lowest price possible. When the offer is simply "too good to be true", it most likely is and there is most likely a reason for that...and some risks involved.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@藤原

Most of the local fishing boats remained in port due to anticipated high waves and strong winds on the day of the incident, and acquaintances warned Toyoda not to go out to sea.

I live in a town that relies almost completely on fishing. When 漁師さんstay in port. You know to avoid the seas in all situations due to dangers at sea.. Even the captain who has a boating licence should have had enough sense not to even attempt going out to sea. Complete ignorance on this companies behalf. 安全第一!

A question (if you know the answer): even in small fishing towns, is there something like a harbor authority who can decide on whether it is "officially" safe to leave harbor or not?

On a side-note, according to the article, a lot of people are now coming out of the woods and bash the oayji, but if they have known for so long, why did nobody do or say anything??? Now is a little bit late to do so...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

On the floor, like a dog...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Very unfortunate! Those black companies should be identified and treated strictly before any such incident happen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is much more to the story which will eventually come out. For example this high-sided boat was designed for the Seto Inland Sea, which is usually a nice placid setting. Other stuff I posted yesterday but there was a troll giving everyone minus points, so I'll not bother to add anything further today.

Just hope that he does not take the suicide way out, as Kyo Wa said above. His body language is shouting it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

orz

So, all is forgiven, then?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Low bow, but not low enough. Send this sorry excuse for a man to Davy Jones Locker. I can't imagine the horror the poor passengers felt.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Greed conquers all. Arrest and charge him to with negligent homicide. Each passenger who died demands of life sentence without parole for this social deviance.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

An apology doesn’t mean much to the families of the 25 victims.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

25 years behind bars pr. passenger seems about right.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The owner will be found out about presurering Captain and will face prison but only on negligent or Manslaughter chargers and minimal time at that. The fact is the Capitain is solely responsible for all lives on the boat and the condition of the boat from when it leaves port/jetty. The Captain will be charged with murder on all counts. The relative will get Insurance payout from the Company. Chasing the owner for compensation is only keeping lawyers in work chasing him in the civil courts.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Meaningless gesture. Go to jail

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Enough with the bowing, apologize in jail!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He has admitted responsibility, and apologised. The last of the old school. Even though things will not be good for him I find it sad there seems to be a lynch mob mentality from people not connected to the disaster.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am sure this guy is going to jail, and rightfully so. this is a tragic accident that could so easily have been avoided. my concern now is for the sunken ship, and the marine wildlife around the coast, the ship sailed out with diesel or engine fuel on board, now the ship has sunk, is there any traces of this fuel comming to the surface and is it starting to pollute the coast line?, I am sure in a previous news bulletin that I read it said, that cost line is an area of out standing natural beauty, I just hope it stays this way.

My late farther who was in the Royal navy told me that when water is that cold ( around 5 degrees) that you dont have long to live in that sort of temperature, it would be minutes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The operator sought Profit over lives!!!!

A skipper from another tour boat company said Katsurada's firm was cutting costs by letting go of experienced crew and hiring rookies at lower wages in their place. "I told him he should leave some veteran crew, but he didn't listen," the 63-year-old said.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There was a flash news on TV, just a few hours ago, telling the tour boat was found sunken 100 meters deep on the bottom of the sea off the coast of Kashuni Fall.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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