INTRODUCTION: A major inquest has begun into the sinking of a Japanese freighter in the East China Sea after a collision with a U.S. Polaris Missile submarine.
SVs Patrol boat docking, coffins being unloaded. (3 SHOTS)
SV Coffins being unloaded from van and taken into building.
CU & SV Shrine and U.S. Naval officer burning incense. (2 SHOTS)
SVs Naval officer hand survivor packages containing money. (2 SHOTS)
SVs U.S. Investigator Captain Willis Rich enters room. (4 SHOTS)
CU U.S. Official reading document. (2 SHOTS)
CU & GV Japanese Ministers and others listening to U.S. statement on the incident. (2 SHOTS)
CU Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Minoru Tanba making statement in English.
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
SEQ. 8: TANBA: "These things touch upon, I think, basic human value. That's why I'm talking about morality. That's why I think Japanese people who are so much upset. Money won't solve these questions."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: A major inquest has begun into the sinking of a Japanese freighter in the East China Sea after a collision with a U.S. Polaris Missile submarine. The incident happened on April the 9th. The 6,000-ton submarine, The George Washington, hit the 2, 350-ton freighter Nissho Maru. Two of the freighter's crew of 15 died, and the rest drifted on life rafts for 18 hours before other ships rescued them. The submarine, which received minor damage, returned to its home base of Guam. Japanese public opinion was incensed by the accident, and stories from survivors that submarine made no attempt to pick them up. There was also a 36-hour delay in the official report of the incident from the U.S. to the Japanese Government. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has since accepted liability for the accident.
SYNOPSIS: The bodies of two crewmen for the freighter were recovered on Tuesday (21 April). One body was found washed ashore on Yakukshima Island by a local fishing boat. It was identified as that of the Chief Mate, aged 42. The other body, that of the Skipper Taizo Noguchi, 51, was found floating in the sea close to shore by a passing motorist.
The coffins of the two crewmen were unloaded at Kyushu Island. A top-ranking U.S. Naval officer burnt incense at a shrine to placate their spirits. Washington has offered to pay all expenses connected with the sinking.
But the Japanese are still upset. Prime Minister Suzuki is being attacked in Parliament for failing to press the United States on the incident. In Tokyo, an inquiry has opened. It is being conducted by U.S. Naval officer Captain Willis Rich.
The inquiry began with the survivors being handed envelopes containing money. This was an ancient Japanese custom -- a kind of solatium, or apology, and not official compensation, which is a separate issue. The purpose of the initial meeting was for Captain Rich to listen to the survivors' story at first hand.
The incident threatened to sour relations between the two countries, but Japan has since modified its criticism. However, Foreign Minister Minoru Tanba expressed strong feelings at a recent meeting with U.S. officials.