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Japan to revoke business license of boat operator

The planned license revocation will make it impossible for the company to obtain a license for two years. (AFP)
The planned license revocation will make it impossible for the company to obtain a license for two years. (AFP)
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24 May 2022 02:05:31 GMT9
24 May 2022 02:05:31 GMT9

TOKYO: The Japanese government will revoke the business license of the operator of the tourist boat that sank off Hokkaido last month, transport minister SAITO Tetsuo said Tuesday.

“If it’s allowed to continue its business, it is highly likely to cause an accident again, so the license revocation is appropriate,” Saito told a news conference.

It will be the first license revocation by the ministry under the marine transportation law in response to an accident. The operator, Shiretoko Yuransen, will thus face the severest administrative punishment stipulated in the law.

The Kazu I boat sank off the Shiretoko Peninsula on April 23 with 26 people on board, leaving 14 dead and 12 missing.

On Tuesday, the ministry notified Seiichi Katsurada, the 58-year-old president of Shiretoko Yuransen, that it will conduct a hearing necessary for the punishment.

The company is expected to receive the punishment officially soon after the hearing, set for June 14.

The ministry also disclosed the results of its special audit conducted since the day after the accident.

It accused the company of three violations of the law and 17 violations of its safety management rules set under the law.

The company made no visible improvement in its safety management system even though it received a special audit following two accidents last year.

The marine transportation law obliges passenger ship service businesses to set safety management rules and operational standards based on the rules and comply with them.

Katsurada, when elected as service operation manager, reported that he met the legal requirement of at least three years of experience in operational management.

He actually had no such experience. Later, he admitted that his report was false, sources said.

Katsurada was supposed to be at the office during the operation of the Kazu I and contact its captain regularly. But he was absent from the office on the day of the accident.

The latest special audit also found that Noriyuki Toyoda, the 54-year-old captain of the boat, was the only operational management assistant who was supposed to act as manager when Katsurada was away.

Shiretoko Yuransen decided to operate the Kazu I on the day of the accident despite a bad weather forecast, though the operation was highly likely to cause a violation of its operational standards.

The company also violated some of its safety management rules, including by failing to instruct employees at the office to contact the captain by mobile phone as radio communications between the two sides were unavailable due to broken equipment.

In 2001, Shiretoko Yuransen obtained a license for a nonregular passenger ship service. The company received a special audit by the ministry in June last year after the Kazu I caused two accidents between May and June that year. It was instructed to improve operations.

The planned license revocation will make it impossible for the company to obtain a license for two years.

JIJI Press

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