Govt. to expand scope of publishing rule violators after Shiretoko boat accident

The fatal tour boat accident off Shiretoko in Hokkaido in April has led Japan's transport ministry to expand the scope of names of operators that it releases in response to rule violations.

The ministry has recently begun to publish on its website the names of passenger boat operators that were issued administrative guidance for violating rules.

Administrative guidance does not involve penalties such as business suspension and cancellation of operation permits.

Until then, the website had only listed operators that were issued administrative disposition, which entails such penalties.

The pleasure boat "KAZU I" sank off Shiretoko in April with 26 people on board. Fourteen people were confirmed dead and 12 are missing.

Its operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruiser, had received administrative guidance for multiple violations of safety regulations before the accident. But this had not been made public.

The publication of the names of such operators was among the measures proposed by a government panel formed after the accident.

The list of businesses that have been issued administrative disposition or guidance can now be found on a special page on the ministry's website.

It covers a wide range of sectors, including construction, tourism and transport.

The length of time for keeping the names on the page has been extended from two years to five years.

The ministry has also set up desks at regional transport bureaus to which customers or employees of boat operators can report problems.

Ministry officials say this will help them focus their inspections on operators that are at high risk of violating rules or causing accidents.

They say the ministry hopes to ensure safety in marine transportation by stepping up measures to collect and publicize information related to safety issues.