Zim: We'll Erect Memorial to Fallen Japanese Fisherman

SAPPORO, Japan - The Zim Shipping company announced yesterday that it would erect a monument in Nemuro in memory of the seven crew members who were killed in a maritime accident last Wednesday, when an Israeli ship, the Zim Asia, collided with a Japanese fishing boat.

Director General of Zim Doron Goder and Israel's ambassador in Japan, Eli Cohen, will meet today with the bereaved families. This will be the final stage of an expiatory mission that Goder has undertaken in Japan.

At a meeting yesterday between Goder and the governor of Hokkaido, Harumi Takahashi, the latter said she understood that Israel had begun its investigation, and asked "that it be comprehensive, and that you allow the Japanese coastal guard take part in it."

Goder and Ambassador Cohen reiterated that Israel would cooperate fully with the Japanese, and promised that they "will not sit still until we find out what happened on the night of the accident."

"If we find out that something was not right, those responsible will be punished," Goder said.

Zim's Eastern Asia commissioner, Yigal Dafne, said that he would be in charge of the investigation of the accident. One of the open questions in respect to the accident is why the Zim Asia suddenly changed its course, and if this could have been as a result of the accident. In a conversation with Dafne, Zim crew members said they changed course shortly after the accident because they had to circumnavigate a large ship.

Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit instructed the Ports Authority yesterday to allow a Japanese investigative team to participate in the questioning of the Zim Asia crew. The team will take testimonies from Captain Moshe Ben David, and from the duty officer who was on deck at the time of the accident.

A maritime inspector for the Ports Authority, Captain Jorge Maggid, who was appointed by Sheetrit to investigate the accident, will arrive today in Hong Kong, Zim Asia's next destination, and will immediately begin the investigation.

Apart from questioning the crew, the ship's instruments and documentation will also be inspected.

Zim has been asked to hand over to the inspector all of the evidence collected since the accident, and to avoid making any changes to the ship, including the painting of the side of the boat that was damaged in the accident.