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Sunken boat exposes flaw in communications system by tour operator

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These avoidable tragedies are due to the greed & lack of concern for public safety by these Japanese tour & transportation companies. Yesterday evening’s bus accident memorial story is another example of criminal charges put on drivers, conductors, pilots & captains

while more criminal charges should be put on the dispatchers and company officers making decisions to send them out despite prevailing conditions.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Dont start looking for reasons to blame anything other than the captain, first and foremost, and the company, for letting the boat out that day.

Even local fishermen stayed in port due to the rough seas.

It was all about making money, and screw the safety of the passengers!

12 ( +19 / -7 )

Of course the operator should face full responsibility from this tragedy, but regulators that let this highly irregular situation happen should also be punished.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Please be a little more specific when you state "regulators" Just which or what regulators need to be punished here?

Those that let an operator with a history of accidents keep in business, and those that let the radio be replaced by a cell phone just because the captain said it would be reachable, when it obviously wasn't. And this is just what has been found until now, it would hardly be surprising more problems are common because of a very lax regulation system.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Three days before the accident, Noriyuki Toyoda, the 54-year-old captain of Kazu I, won approval from a regulator to use his mobile phone rather than the satellite mobile phone on the boat as a means of communication, according to the transport ministry.

Thats not the point! At all. Experienced people, fishermen better run tour operators all canceled or turned back. It just wasn’t safe. Can have all the wish washy regulations that amount to nothing but when your much more experienced contemporaries are saying NO. A pause for thought. It’s murder by accident/stupidity but still murder.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Inappropriate! Criminally negligent more like. If professional fishermen are coming back in because of the weather you do not send a bunch of tourists out in a toy boat that has been shown to be wholly inadequately equipped for the conditions.

A raft of failures, leading to death. The whole operation was at best inept at worst criminals negligent.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Allowing a boat to go out with passengers without a sure way of communicating with others in case of emergencies is pretty negligent.

I hope this encourages all other tour operators, regardless of types of vessels, to really prioritize safety first.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So the fact that the captain could radio his boat is sinking on a satellite phone is a focus? Why was he there in the first place? That’s the question I ask as I touch my nose to the floor.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

No redundancy, should have failed the inspection. The operator, the captain and MLIT all ignored the warning signs. Interviews with local fishermen said that the captain admitted that he had AU and was out of the service area. First question from MLIT should have been about the reliability of service if the cell phone was going to be the primary means of communications. Either way, shouldn't have sailed.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The regulator approved the change because Toyoda said the mobile phone would be reachable on the sea, the ministry said

The ultimate 'tail wagging the dog', you couldn't make this up.

Company tells regulator it's safe. Regulator approves it.

Regulator and owner should be thrown in jail for criminal negligence, if not worse.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

What is alarming is that the boat only had flotation devices in the case of an emergency. With rescue at least 30 minutes away, most of the passengers were doomed the moment they went into the icy sea. The so-called life jackets would not save their lives but would help the recovery of the bodies.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Why don’t they use UHF radios like the rest of the maritime world?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Travel company owner should go to jail, and all affected families being compensated. That company should shut down, obviously.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The final decision , and responsibility, whether to set sail or not rests with the Captain.

ok that doesn't make sense. The company should have had information available about the conditions and even information from other boats coming back in to port when it was going out. What kind of two bit operation was this?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is just terrible. With Japan's prowess in electronics and allowing all those lives to depend on a cell phone. That has to be changed. How could this have not been advanced to where life is not in concert with safety?...

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The holes in the Swiss cheese all lined up, unfortunately.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Shiretoko Yuransen's owner publicly apologized Wednesday, admitting his decision to give the green light to depart despite the chance of bad weather was inappropriate.

Inappropriate?? Criminal negligence causing death right there

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He bowed an apologized.

The coast guard is investigating the incident with the operator likely to face charges of professional negligence resulting in death.

I hope they prosecute to the full extent of the law and not give him a small fine and a suspended sentence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The boat driver (the word 'captain' is not applicable) knew that if he refused to sail, he would have been replaced by the company owner. In fact, that same owner laid everyone off at the end of last season, to be replaced this season by younger, cheaper workers. Jobs are few and far between in this remote part of the country, and there is always someone desperate enough for a job to compromise the rules concerning safety.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

The boat had room for 60 passengers. Luckily they only sold 24 tickets.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Might be the Captain that has the final say, but as previous captains has said in interviews, they were often asked why they cancelled trips because of the weather and was ultimately fired and instead this newbie captain that was a friend to the owner was hired. This should all be on the owner of the company.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is exactly why do ACCESS your Dive, Swim, Kiyak trip, whatever, BEFORE you go in the water and commit to it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am really surprised that passenger vessel (tour boat) safety rules are so weak in Japan. Vessels such as these should be subject to strict safety rules guaranteed by the Coast Guard. Captains should be licensed and vessels inspected on a regular basis. And all vessels, especially those who go to sea should carry 1st class life vests, life (survival) rafts/boats, AIS, EPIRBS, VHF, and if more than 25 miles from port SSB or satellite radios. Is there any excuse for not doing this? How is it that Japan doesn't already do this?

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

It’s product liability - negligence, not murder.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

SeigiToday  08:47 am JST

One thing I have learned here in Japan is, they will DO everything at all cost if they have already made up their mind. Even if it's near impossible, if it's already decided, they will still do it!

That only holds true with large organizations, companies and bureaucracies. It takes forever to reach a decision and reversing or changing it is like moving mountains. But in this case it is a small local boat tour company and the decision making process was only the Owner and Captain.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

the captain, first and foremost, and the company, for letting the boat out that day.

The evidence certainly support this ^.

The boat was found on the western side, but there were people found on the eastern side of the penisula, and one was in the sea of Okhotsk and sighted by a Russian ship but couldn't be rescued because of 'weather'.

I thought maritime laws says ultimately the 'captain' is responsible for the safety of crew and passengers. If the owner forced the captain to go to sea, then the owner should be held as accessory.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The final decision , and responsibility, whether to set sail or not rests with the Captain.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

But in this case it is a small local boat tour company and the decision making process was only the Owner and Captain.

Yes. If in command, I tend to lean towards "if in doubt, leave it out". But some commentators have pointed out, it is sometimes difficult to go against the boss.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

One thing I have learned here in Japan is, they will DO everything at all cost if they have already made up their mind. Even if it's near impossible, if it's already decided, they will still do it!

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Only the captain can make decisions once the boat leaves the port. On land the CEO makes the decisions, but out of port it is the captains sole responsibility.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

In regards to compensation, the prosecutor cannot hold the Captain hostage, and the CEO has in affect apologised, so there is little point taking him hostage. Most advanced countries would have an independent enquiry probably by a Health and Safety Executive along side any criminal procedures.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I find it highly unlikely the Captain would have been fired for not taking the boat out. He had several reasons to cancel, and it was his suggestion to use his personal phone. It’s not unreasonable to think he convinced the operator that it would be safe to continue. And he also had the option to return early.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Exuses and blame for feeble regulatory system and incompetent safety measures of a greedy dysfunctional tour company and the pathetic emergency response time by authorities.

Communication issues ? Yes !

Safety regulations in Japan aren't enforced or even exist for many things.

Fire extinguishers don't even require safety maintenance check certificates.

Tour boats in hokkaido don't require safety suits and a lesson on preparedness for the passengers and crew ?

Do any of the seafaring vessels in Japan have life suits regulations ?

No they don't- because its incompetence by the safety regulation authorities.

An unfortunate situation in hokkaido that could have and should have been avoided.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

 but regulators that let this highly irregular situation happen should also be punished.

Please be a little more specific when you state "regulators" Just which or what regulators need to be punished here?

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Japanese marine casualties and accidents overview over the past 5 years is 3239 a year.

Thats according to a Google internet search of a Japanese statistics.

Other notable boating disasters worth remembering are the - Shiun maru disaster and the - Toya maru disaster.

Will Japan ever have adequate preparedness for a rapid response to boating disasters or adequate safety requirement regulations enforcement ?

So far iam not convinced that Japan is competent enough to protect its people or borders or respond efficiently to any types of disasters.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Sunken boat exposes flaw in communications system by tour operator

The headline itself is biased against the tour operator by saying the word "by". Seems that Japan is going down the road of Trail by Media. The lynch mob mentality has always existed.

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

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