A man who lost everything in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan and claimed over 15,000 lives, is finally getting back one of his prized possessions – his jet ski.
Tomomune Matsunaga, who lived in Fukushima, lost his home and almost all of his personal possessions back on March 11, 2011, including, he assumed, his yellow Yamaha personal watercraft.
Then, in May of this year, a young intern for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Danielle Lampe, found the craft while doing research on the Johnston Atoll, roughly 700 miles southwest of Honolulu and 3,000 miles from Fukushima where the craft was stored.
Lampe was conducting a bird survey back on May 21 when she discovered the jet ski.
‘He’s lost everything,’ Lampe, 23, said of the craft’s owner while speaking with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
‘Getting something back, even if it can’t be used, means a lot.’
And now, thanks to some help from Chris Woolaway, the Hawaii coordinator for a global event called International Coastal Cleanup, Matsunaga is getting his jet ski back free of charge.
Woolaway called on a friend who reached out to the captain of a Japanese boat, the Fukushima Maru, that docks in Honolulu three times a year.
The captain, Shigeki Kuwabara, agreed to transport the jet ski and, on Sunday, when the boat left Honolulu for Japan, the craft was hoisted aboard, set to reunite with its owner on November 11 after another long trip across then Pacific Ocean.
There is no word yet on what Matsunaga, who lives in temporary housing in Iwaki City, plans to do with his craft when he gets it back.