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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #90: December 17, 2002

US sub captain sorry for sinking

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"US sub captain sorry for sinking"


The article brings back the obnoxious memory that may have been forgotten by many of the unfortunate incident 22 months ago.

Nine people on board the Ehime Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel died when a US Navy submarine - the USS Greeneville - conducted a practice emergency maneuver directly below and ripped right through the ship upon surfacing. The fact that four among the nine victims were young students being trained in fishing, and that the maneuver by the submarine was to please civilian visitors on board who were being rewarded for their fundraising activities for the Navy, fueled the resentment of Japanese people toward the incident and the US military activities in general.

The timing was not very good, either. The incident occurred just two days after the US military commander on the Japanese island of Okinawa apologized for calling the local legislators "nuts" and "a bunch of wimps" after the local assembly demanded a cut in the number of US troops there.

Shortly after the incident, Commander Waddle expressed his desire to visit Japan to apologize. It was than reported, however, that the Navy, along with the Commander's lawyers, were preventing him to do so as it could dilute their legal position over negotiations on compensation. Though may be tactically correct in accordance with US legal procedures, this had an abrasive effect on the Japanese sentiment which may have further complicated the following negotiations.

Commander Waddle probably did the right thing this time to visit Japan to face the grief, and anger, of the bereaved families. His courage may even be commended at a very personal level though that does not relieve his responsibility over the incident as a professional person.

Aside from politics and strategies of a nation from a global point of view, there are inevitable interactions at local and personal levels when military forces and civilians intermingle, which more often than not cause tension, and could even lead to tragedies.

A presidential election is being held this week in South Korea. One of the major issues in the race is the recent feeling of anti-Americanism in the country. Widespread demonstrations have been triggered by two American soldiers being acquitted by US army court, of causing the deaths of two local schoolgirls by a US army armored vehicle earlier in the year. Until recently, there have been no large-scale backlashes by the people of South Korea toward the US forces stationed there. While South Koreans are concerned about North Korea developing nuclear weapons, they may at the same time have begun to feel uneasy living together with foreign military forces in their daily lives.

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