Photo/Illutration Seiichi Katsurada, president of Shiretoko Pleasure Boat, apologizes for the disaster at an April 27 news conference. (Wataru Sekita)

SHARI, Hokkaido--The president of the Hokkaido company involved in a pleasure boat disaster off the Shiretoko Peninsula got on his hands and knees to apologize for the sinking and loss of the 26 passengers and crew.

Seiichi Katsurada of Shiretoko Pleasure Boat made the gesture twice when he appeared April 27 before the media for the first time since the Kazu I pleasure boat ran into difficulties April 23.

“I apologize for the great trouble we have caused,” he said before getting on his hands and knees and bowing his head for about 10 seconds.

Eleven bodies have been recovered so far, and 15 others are still missing five days after the sinking.

Reading from a prepared statement, Katsurada said, “We have placed a tremendous burden on the families of those who perished as well as the families of those who are still being searched for. I am truly sorry.”

He then got on his hands and knees and bowed again for about eight seconds.

Katsurada explained the background to Kazu I as well as what took place in the hours before the pleasure boat left Utoro Port. He also explained that he met with family members prior to the news conference.

He also said it was his decision to allow the Kazu I to leave port.