More than 1,700 lives lost immediately after the end of the war August 12, 11:46

"A mother carrying a child on her back was raising her hand to help me, but it sank in a blink of an eye.

" All I could do was watch.

Off the coast of Hokkaido, seven days after the end of the war.

Three repatriation ships carrying many children and elderly people who fled from Karafuto, now Sakhalin, were attacked, and more than 1,700 people lost their lives.

Who and why?

Even 77 years after the war, the full picture is still unknown.

(Sapporo Broadcasting Station Reporter Kota Oguri)

The tragedy of the "Mifune disaster incident" told by the surviving passengers

My name is Sumiko Mikami (87) and I live in Kodaira-cho on the Sea of ​​Japan side of northern Hokkaido.

77 years ago she was on board a salvage vessel that was attacked.

The Mikami family used to live in Ushikika, a town in the southern part of Karafuto. did.

About 3,500 people, mainly children, women and the elderly, boarded the ship and left for Otaru in Hokkaido.

It was early in the morning of the next day, August 22nd, that the accident occurred.

Ms. Sumiko Mikami:

“When I was dozing off while leaning on my luggage, the explosion caused a burn and covered me with a lot of water.

When I opened my eyes, there was a large hole in the hold where Mr. Mikami was, and seawater was pouring in from there.

It was a torpedo attack by a submarine.

Mr. Mikami grabbed a rope that was lowered from the deck and pulled him up, barely escaping from the flooded hold.

However, when I went up to the deck, the sea was still an unforgettable sight.

“When I looked at the sea, I saw a lot of people floating with their luggage

, but they gradually disappeared due to the current of the tide.

He grabbed me and raised my hand to say 'help me,' but he sank in the blink of an eye. I'm still a child and I can't help him, so all I could do was watch."

The black shadow that suddenly appeared on the surface of the sea was the submarine.

“They said, ‘A submarine has surfaced,’ and I saw a black shadow, and I thought I was going to die.

"No. 2 Shinko Maru" docked at nearby Rumoi Port, although many sacrifices were made.

However, on the same day, two other ships, the Ogasawara Maru and the Taito Maru, which also carried people who had been repatriated from Karafuto, were torpedoed by submarines and sunk.

More than 1,700 people died on the three ships, and Mr. Mikami also lost many relatives.

After that, what happened on this day came to be called the "Mifune Distress Incident."

In this incident, memorial monuments were built in various places along the coast where the victims washed up.

Mr. Mikami still mourns for those who died that day by cleaning the cenotaph and offering flowers by himself every August.

“When my son was born, the first thing I thought was how I would help him if there was a war like that time. But when


see the news about Ukraine, it makes me cry because of what I experienced.I always want my children and grandchildren to have the same experience.

1977 years without full clarification, sense of crisis in Ukraine situation

The "Mifune Distress Incident," which caused the deaths of so many citizens, is still unknown even 77 years after the end of the war.

Initially, the submarine that attacked the ship was said to be of "unknown nationality," but documents found in the 1990s revealed that it was an attack by a former Soviet submarine.

However, there is no fact that Russia has officially acknowledged.

In 2018, the Japanese government responded to the questionnaire as follows.

"Is it correct to

understand that this incident was an attack by a submarine belonging to the Soviet Pacific Fleet?


Yes.” (Government Answer)

Uncovering the truth becomes more difficult as time goes on.

In addition, the bereaved families have a growing sense of crisis as diplomatic relations between Japan and Russia deteriorated due to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, making it more difficult for both governments to find out the truth.

"Don't let the incident fade away" Now is the time to tell future generations about the war

“We must not let the incident fade away,”

says Misao Nagatani, 81, who works as the secretariat for the Association for Bereaved Families of the Mifune Disaster.

Nagatani is supported by her late husband, Yasuhiko.

Yasuhiko, who lost his mother in the incident, has held memorial services for many years as chairman of the bereaved family association, and has continued to seek an apology from Russia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, he passed away five years ago at the age of 88 without his wish being fulfilled.

Misao Nagatani:

“From the beginning, I sent a letter of request to President Putin and asked for an apology and compensation, but it was all in vain. Even so, I have never failed to send a request.”

After her husband passed away, Misao worked alone for the bereaved family association, but she is already over 80 years old.

In order for her to carry on with Mr. Yasuhiko's wishes and to continue the activities of her bereaved family association for as long as possible, she decided to appoint another bereaved family member as chairman of the bereaved family association, which had been vacant. entrusted

Nobuhiro Yamaki (76) was born the year after the incident.

Sixteen of his relatives aboard the ship died, and he grew up hearing stories of the incident from his father and others.

Although he is over 70 years old, he took on the role of chairman to pass down the case to posterity as the "second generation" of the case.

Mr. Nobuhiro Yamaki:

"Russia is still doing the same thing in Ukraine. Whenever I see it, I feel sad that history will not change. There are news of war every day, but I also want to prevent it from happening again. I think it's important to properly convey the facts of history."

Even recently, bereaved family associations have been receiving inquiries about whether relatives may have been on board.

And when it is confirmed that they are boarding on the list, it is said that they are sometimes thanked saying, "My heart has cleared up."

Misao believes that these steady activities will lead to the passing down of history to future generations.

Mr. Misao Nagatani:

"First of all, it's best not to forget the incident. If we do, it means that the Mifune disaster never happened. I would like to carry on with the feeling that

In Rumoi City in northern Hokkaido, there is a memorial monument for the "Mifune Distress Incident" on a hill overlooking the Sea of ​​Japan.

"I will erect this monument on this land with a prayer for the repose

of the souls and wishing for lasting peace, while vowing to never forget this tragedy."

I still remember the words of Sumiko Mikami,

"Over the years, even the locals don't know much about the cenotaph, and I've become more resigned to the fact that the times are changing. At least for myself, as long as I'm alive, including the people who went before me. I want you to feed me."

Rather than relying solely on those who experienced the hardships of war, I would like us to continue to think about how we, as a whole in the postwar era, can share our experiences and lessons, pass them on to future generations, and make the most of them. .

Sapporo Broadcasting Station Reporter

Kouta Oguri Entered

in 2021 Covering

a wide range of fields from wars, incidents, accidents to preparations for a huge earthquake