Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Yaritosai TOMIOKA

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Yaritosai TOMIOKA

Delivered on : 9 February 2022

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Linton

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : Mr Yaritosai Tomioka was born in Japan and was employed as the Chief Engineer onboard the “Toku Ju Maru” a tuna fishing vessel.  He had been working in that role for approximately seven years prior to his disappearance.  In October 1972, Mr Tomioka was struggling to resolve an issue with the vessel’s freezer, which put at the risk the vessel’s tuna catch.

Mr Tomioka was last seen by the 1st Engineer at midnight on 4 October 1972, when they changed watches.  Mr Tomioka failed to attend breakfast at 7.00 am on the morning of 5 October 1972.  His cabin was checked, but he was not inside.  A six page letter was found in in his cabin in which Mr Tomioka apologised for his actions in relation to the freezer and referred to weighing himself down with a heavy item and going overboard.  After discovery of the note, the Captain of the ship was informed that Mr Tomioka was missing and was believed to have committed suicide.  The Captain initiated a sea search and a thorough search of the vessel, but there was no sign of Mr Tomioka.  The crew did not find any missing heavy items from the vessel, and enquiries with the crew found no one had seen Mr Tomioka after midnight.  The Captain advised authorities of Mr Tomioka’s disappearance.

At 4.05 pm on 6 October 1972, the vessel berthed in Fremantle and local police boarded the vessel in order to conduct inquiries into Mr Tomioka’s reported disappearance.  The Captain confirmed they had conducted a lengthy search for over 12 hours but no sign of Mr Tomioka had been found.  Crew were spoken to and the six page suicide note was reviewed.  After spending a further 10 days in port while the freezer was repaired, the vessel left port to return back to Japan.

The Deputy State Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt Mr Tomioka died around the time of the discovery of his disappearance on 5 October 1972.  Based on the note he left, the Deputy State Coroner found the manner of death was by way of Suicide.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : Marine Search : Suicide

Last updated: 19-Mar-2022

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