Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The Israeli shipping firm whose vessel crashed into a Japanese fishing boat last week, killing seven people, admitted responsibility and apologised, a top Japanese diplomat told reporters.
Zim Asia Ryuta Mizuuchi, number two at the Japanese embassy in Tel Aviv, said two top officials from Israel Corp, the parent company of Zim Shipping, admitted their firm's involvement in the fatal crash off the Japanese coast and personally apologised to the Japanese Ambassador to Israel, Jun Yokota. Japanese coast guards discovered a capsized fishing boat off the coast of Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. The boat had capsized in international waters and only one of the eight crew members survived. An investigation found that paint from the capsized boat matched that of a 40,000-ton Israeli-registered Zim Asia cargo ship, which was en route from Seattle to South Korea. Idan Ofer, chairman of the board at Israel Corp, and president and CEO Yossi Rosen promised to cooperate with the investigation, Mizuuchi said. "They expressed their apologies for what happened off the Japanese coast. They said they would do whatever they could to cooperate with the investigation and sent their condolences to the families of the dead," he said. "They also offered to financially support the families in what we understand was an offer of compensation," Mizuuchi added. Although the Zim Asia vessel had initially denied any involvement in a collision, Ofer said incident had not been a 'hit and run' case. "He said that if the captain of the ship had been aware that he had hit the Japanese fishing boat, he would have behaved otherwise and helped them," Mizuuchi added. Earlier Monday, Zim said it had opened its own inquiry and sent its senior representative in Asia to question the crew of the cargo ship. Collisions involving foreign-registered vessels have to be investigated by authorities in their country of registration. Zim is one of the world's largest container shipping companies and operates a network of shipping lines across the globe.