TOKYO – Japan said Tuesday it was satisfied with the punishment imposed on the captain of a U.S. submarine that sank a high school fisheries training vessel, but officials in the town where the ship was based said the penalty was not severe enough.
USS Greeneville Cmdr. Scott Waddle was given a letter of reprimand Monday as punishment for the February collision that killed nine people aboard the Ehime Maru in waters off Hawaii.
He was also told he would have to forfeit half of his pay for two months, but that punishment was suspended -- meaning Waddle will receive full pay until he retires on Oct. 1.
"The Japanese government considers that the U.S. government has acknowledged all responsibilities regarding this incident," said Kazuhiko Koshikawa, spokesman for Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.
The nine killed in the Feb. 9 collision included four students and two teachers from a fisheries high school in Uwajima. Some in the city 470 miles southwest of Tokyo felt Waddle's punishment was not strong enough.
"Unfortunately, I cannot help but feel the punishment may be too light," said Mayor Hirohisa Ishibashi.
"Families and students are demanding that Waddle come to Uwajima and apologize," he added. "But I am too agitated at this point to say, please come."
There were strong feelings in Japan that Waddle should face a court-martial for failing to detect the Ehime Maru before his submarine surfaced rapidly in a demonstration of emergency procedures for the benefit of 16 civilians aboard. All other officers of the Greeneville also escaped courts-martial.
"It is regrettable our feeling that the sub's captain should be tried in a military court did not materialize," said Motoyasu Ota, a city official in Uwajima.
But the Japanese government said Tuesday the punishment issue was closed.
"With the measures taken against Waddle and others, their liability has been made clear," Kazuhiko said. "These decisions were made under U.S. rules and the Japanese government does not at this point plan to make any specific demand to the United States."
Japan will, however, continue to ask that "sincere steps" be taken in negotiating remaining issues such as compensation for the families of the victims and raising of the Ehime Maru, he said.