JS Atago at RIMPAC 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul D. Honnick.

Two MSDF officers on duty when the Aegis destroyer Atago collided with a fishing board pled not guilty in court in a court in Yokohama to the charges of “professional negligence leading to death” and “professional negligence leading to endangering traffic.” The accident, which took place in 2008 off the coast of Japan, resulted in the deaths of two fishermen.

The accident occurred on Feb. 19, 2008, at around 4 a.m., when the Aegis Combat System-equipped destroyer “Atago” and the fishing boat “Seitoku Maru” were sailing near each other off the coast of Chiba Prefecture. Aboard the Atago, Nagaiwa had just taken over the helm from Ushirogata. Ushirogata is accused of incorrectly telling Nagaiwa that the Seitoku Maru was stopped. Nagaiwa is accused of not altering the Atago’s course even after noticing that the Seitoku Maru was not in fact stopped, but moving and in danger of colliding with the Atago. The Atago and the fishing boat collided, causing the fishing boat to sink and leading to the deaths of its two occupants, Haruo Kichisei, 58, and his son Tetsuhiro, 23. (Link)

Interesting that the two MSDF officers are being tried in a civilian court. My impression of the way things are done in the US is that the officers would be tried in a military court under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That having been said, SDF personnel are technically civilians since the SDF is not technically a military.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch