By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
KAKAAKO (HawaiiNewsNow) – Victim's families, dignitaries from Hawaii and Japan's Ehime Prefecture, and military members from both the United States and Japan gathered at the Ehime Maru Memorial in Kakaako Waterfront Park Wednesday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Ehime Maru tragedy. On February 9, 2001 nine of the 35 Japanese citizens on the Ehime Maru were killed when the U.S. Navy submarine U.S.S. Greeneville struck and sunk the Japanese fishing training vessel.
Families who came to Honolulu for the event arrived at the park early to place flowers and pictures of the victims around the memorial. They still feel great sorrow, but their resentment toward the navy has eased as their bond with the people of Hawaii has grown.
"I've seen a change and I think they are coming to terms. You know, time heals. Especially when you reach out your hand to help them understand and help them through the grief and the suffering," said Ed Hawkins, president of the Ehime Maru Memorial Association.
Every anniversary family, dignitaries, and members of the local Japanese community gather to mark the incident. New relationships have been established. For example youth softball and baseball teams from Hawaii and the Ehime Prefecture compete.
And there are internships for University of Hawaii students at the Ehime Prefecture International Center.
"Even though I cannot easily describe how the last ten years have been to us when I come here to the Kakaako Waterfront Park and see this magnificent ocean, makes my heart calm," said Tatsuyoshi Mizuguchi, father of Takeshi Mizuguchi who lost his life in the collision.
Governor of the Ehime Prefecture, Tokihiro Nakamura addressed the crowd. He talked about how the past ten years have united the people of Hawaii and Ehime.
After the speeches various groups, including the U.S. Navy, placed wreathes at the base of the memorial.
"I think it's a very important service because it gives us the opportunity, all of us including the United States Navy, the opportunity to reflect on why we're having this ceremony and the lesson that can be learned from that. And then to remember the individual souls who were lost," said Rear Admiral Kathleen Gregory.
For a close look at the Greeneville / Ehime Maru incident watch the video posted along with this story.