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Japan dodges blame over sinking of hospital ship Centaur

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Japan dodges blame over sinking of hospital ship Centaur

Postby U-5075 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:25 pm ... 02,00.html

Japan dodges blame over sinking of hospital ship Centaur
Article from: The Courier-Mail

By Tuck Thompson

January 15, 2010 12:00am

THE Japanese position that it remains "murky" who sank the Centaur has been rejected by historians and relatives of those who were aboard the hospital ship torpedoed off Moreton Island in 1943.

Tokyo so far has not answered calls by Queensland's Acting Premier Paul Lucas and others for a specific apology for the sinking and also for a possible contribution to the $4 million search effort.

The Centaur was discovered last month by deep-sea sonar, with dramatic video and photographs released this week.

Brisbane pilot John Foley, who co-authored a book about the Centaur with Canadian academic Chris Milligan, said Japan admitted its role in 1979 in a military history by former Rear Admiral Kaneyoshi Sakamoto of the Japanese National Defense College.

Considered Japan's leading expert in submarine warfare, Sakamoto and his book, The History of Submarine Warfare, said Japanese submarine 1-177 sank the Centaur on May 14, 1943 at coordinates near where it was located.

But a spokesman for the Japanese embassy in Canberra said there was no conclusive proof Japan did it.

"The Japanese perspective is it is up in the air," he said.

Survivors of the attack said they saw a submarine surface when they were clinging to debris and life rafts and one also witnessed the torpedo coming at the Centaur.

Brisbane resident Barry McCosker, whose father and uncle were Centaur survivors, said he was "flabbergasted" that the Japanese still weren't taking responsibility in 2010.

"They can't deny it was them," he said. "I know we won't get any apology

Mr Milligan said an apology was less important than helping Japanese academics "in making sure that the full reality about Japan's WWII illegal activities become infused throughout the Japanese school curriculum".

"This would have a far more positive and long lasting impact on the collective Japanese psyche than demanding a forced public apology for sinking the Centaur," he said.

The commander of the I-177, Hajime Nakagawa, died in 1986 at age 84, silent about the Centaur.

He had been imprisoned after the war for six years for machine-gunning the crew of the tanker British Chivalry which he sank in the Indian Ocean.

Most of the crew of the I-177 were killed when it was destroyed shorty after the Centaur was torpedoed, but Nakagama was transferred to another sub.
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