Okinawa Prefecture Fishery Cooperative to claim damages from the U.S. military over fishing boat line-cutting

July 1, 2014 Takumi Takimoto of Ryukyu Shimpo

Seven tuna fishing boats had their lines cut off one after another in waters near the main Island of Okinawa in May. On June 30, the Okinawa Prefecture Fishery Cooperative decided to make a claim to the U.S. government via the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General to which a U.S. Navy vessel suspected to have been involved in the incidents belongs. The cooperative is collecting information on the damages and videotape evidence of the incidents.

As the cooperative and Okinawa Prefectural Government investigates the cause of the incidents, the Japanese government has asked them to file a claim to the U.S.military. The Japanese government determined that it is important to show its intent swiftly to the U.S. military in order to resolve the problem expediently and without complication.

After collecting enough data, the cooperative intends to make a claim to the U.S. Naval Forces Japan in Yokosuka City of Kanagawa prefecture and the U.S. Navy. Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Interviewed by the Ryukyu Shimpo, the head of the cooperative Shinko Kuniyoshi said, “We intend to report to the U.S. military on the number of damaged boats, and how and when the incidents occurred.”

The cooperative and prefectural government asked the Okinawa branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to work on the cases. Kenichi Matsuda of the ministry said, “We want the owners of the damaged boats to file a claim to the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General. After that, we intend to work on the cases.”

In the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense on June 12, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Fumio Kishida referred to the incidents. He said, “When these owners file a claim to the U.S.military, the Japanese government would like to provide indirect support for them as much as possible.”

Tsuyoshi Yamashiro of the prefectural government said on June 30, “The prefectural government will continue to support the related fisheries organizations to make sure the damages are compensated smoothly. We will also ask both the U.S. and Japanese governments to take preventative steps.”

Members of the Okinawan fishing industry suspect the US Navy Ocean Surveillance Ship Impeccable was involved in cutting the trawl lines of seven tuna fishing boats in waters near the main Island of Okinawa. The damaged boats belong to Okinawa fishing organizations.

The U.S. military did not refer to the Navy’s involvement in the incidents. They stated that if the owners think the U.S. Navy vessel damaged their boats, they can make a claim to the U.S. government via the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General.

(English translation by T&CT)

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