The Coast Guard searched May 2 the office of the operator of a tour boat that on April 23 sank off Hokkaido with 26 people aboard, suspecting the tragedy was caused by gross professional negligence.
The 1st Regional Coast Guard Headquarters will look into the documents it collected from Shiretoko Yuransen in Shari, Hokkaido, and the company’s president, Seiichi Katsurada, in an attempt to speed up the process of understanding the incident to build a case against the operator.
The boat left port in the town on April 23 despite a bad weather warning issued in the area 20 minutes before its departure, which said to expect waves over 3 meters. By setting off, the boat’s captain apparently violated company rules.
Under the rules, tours must be canceled when the wind speed is expected to exceed 28.8 kilometers per hour and waves are likely to reach a height of 1 meter, according to sources with knowledge of the company’s business.
The sources alleged Katsurada had repeatedly forced captains to depart despite high seas.
The 19-ton Kazu I went missing with 24 passengers, including two children, and two crew aboard after it left port in Shari to cruise along the Shiretoko Peninsula, designated as a World Natural Heritage site. (Kyodo)