The Chokaimaru fishing boat towers over what remains of the houses of Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, a surreal testament to the awesome power of the March 11 tsunami.
It took the wave a matter of minutes to get the ship ashore, but a tangle over accountants' small print means nobody quite knows when it will be removed.
Since 1992, the boat had been used by Kamo Fisheries High School in Yamagata Prefecture to train students in longline tuna fishing in waters off Hawaii. The boat was retired in the last academic year and sold to a private firm in February. It was at anchor in a nearby port when the tsunami hit.
The costs of removing and dismantling grounded ships are supposed to be footed by their owners, according to the prefectural government's fishery division. But the owner of the 452-ton vessel had not enrolled in damage insurance for the boat and it is unclear when it will be removed or demolished.
The uninsured Chokaimaru is relatively undamaged, but moving it to a port capable of providing a mooring would be extremely expensive. No nearby port is deep enough.
If the owner disclaims ownership, the authorities will destroy it using taxpayer's money.
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