Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Obituary - Bulk Freight Shipping Mourns The Loss Of A Legend Of The IMO

Mr. Yoshio Sasamura - Remembered Particularly for his Contribution to Tanker Safety
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN - One of the stalwarts responsible for the safety of freight shipping, particularly tankers has died. Mr. Yoshio Sasamura of Japan, a veteran of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and a major contributor to its work over many decades, has died. He was 84 and had been battling with cancer. In a long and illustrious career, Mr. Sasamura dedicated more than 50 years' service to improving maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment.

A graduate of Tokyo University’s Department of Engineering and Naval Architecture, Mr. Sasamura joined the IMO Secretariat in 1964 after a career of some 15 years as an engineer and a surveyor with the Japanese classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. Six years later he was appointed Director of IMO’s Marine Science and Technology Division and subsequently became Director, first of the Organization’s Marine Environment Division and, latterly, its Maritime Safety Division. In 1987, he was appointed Assistant Secretary-General.

After leaving the IMO Secretariat in 1989, he was appointed technical adviser to the Japan Shipbuilding Research Association and, in this capacity, served until 2008 as a member of the Japanese delegation to IMO. He was also the Secretary of the Tokyo MOU on Port State Control from its beginning, in 1994, until 2007.

Among his many achievements, which included an influential involvement in the development of the 1966 Load Lines Convention, the 1969 Tonnage Measurement Convention and the 1974 SOLAS Convention, it will be for his work in the establishment of the 1973 MARPOL Convention and its subsequent Protocol of 1978 that he will perhaps be best remembered.

That took place at a time when oil tankers were growing exponentially in size, with the birth of what was effectively a new type of ship, the Very Large Crude Carrier; and when the threat that these giant ocean carriers could pose to the environment was becoming only too apparent. MARPOL emerged from that period as the bedrock on which the environmental credentials of the shipping industry were founded and so it remains today, albeit much revised, updated and expanded.

He was awarded the Transport Prize by the Minister for Transport in Japan in 1986, the International Maritime Prize by the IMO in 1992,the Minister for Foreign Affairs Prize in 1999, and the Order of Rising Sun and Rays by the Emperor of Japan in 2000 and on his retirement in 2008 he was praised by all sections of the industry, particularly the members of Intertanko, for more than fifty years dedicated to improving safety in the marine environment. Commenting on Mr. Sasamura’s passing, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said:

“Few people have played such a dominant role in the work of IMO as Mr. Sasamura. His experience, knowledge and deep understanding of the issues won him universal admiration, even from those who may have espoused a different viewpoint, while his skill as a negotiator often cleared the way for solutions acceptable to all parties.

“He will also be remembered fondly for his sense of humour, even in the most difficult situations. His interventions would often produce a note of levity that served to diffuse any tension and allow the discussion to move on to new areas and different dimensions, usually to great effect overall. He was truly a legend of IMO and a great servant of both the Organization and of shipping.”

A memorial service for Mr. Sasamura will be held at the Anglican-EpiscopaIian Church in Tokyo on 28 May and his funeral will take place the following day.

Photo: Mr. Sasamura is greeted by IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E Mitropoulos at World Maritime Day reception, September 2008 Copyright Greg Funnell 2008