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September 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 48, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Japanese Dive Shop Apologizes

from the September, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A diving shop in Okinawa apologized after a photograph appeared online of some of its diving customers posing on the remains of the Emmons, a destroyer sunk in a Japanese Kamikaze attack during World War II. The act was seen as discourteous and incited disapproval from relatives and friends in a survivor group residing in Okinawa.

What a contrast to how we from the West treat Japanese war wrecks! Those of you who've been diving at Truk Lagoon, the forward operating base of the Japanese armed forces in WWII, may have noticed that it's rare to see a Japanese diver there.

Soon, Operation Desecrate One, sank the Japanese military vessels that escaped Operation Hailstone and retreated to Palau Lagoon.

Sixty years after they were sunk, I dived on these wrecks during a specially organized 'wreck week' with Palau dive center Fish 'n Fins. Most of the divers accompanying me were Japanese, but they seemed oblivious to the wrecks' history, appearing to think they had been sunk in some national disaster. That was all but one: Tomimatsu Ishikawa was the Chief Engineer on the fleet oiler Iro when it sank, and I dived with him on it when he was in his late eighties. He said the Japanese defeat had been a shameful event that nobody who survived it was allowed to mention.

Maybe that's the difference. The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the eventual defeat of Japan, for which they will forever have shame. Meanwhile, with the passing of time, maybe we should start treating Japanese war wrecks with the same respect the Japanese give ours.

- John Bantin

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