Ellen Savage

Japan refuses to accept responsibility for sinking of Centaur

Rowan Callick and Andrew Fraser - The Australian

The Japanese government yesterday refused to take responsibility for the sinking of the Centaur, saying the circumstances surrounding the torpedoing of the Australian hospital ship on May 14, 1943, remained unclear. 

The Japanese embassy in Canberra said Tokyo had conducted its own inquiry into the wartime sinking that claimed 268 lives, and would wait for the outcome of the latest Australian investigation following the discovery of the Centaur's wreck 2059m below the surface on Sunday.

"The circumstances were not clear given that it occurred during the Second World War. We will see how the ongoing investigation by Australia unfolds," the embassy told The Australian.

The embassy would not elaborate on the inquiry into the sinking of the Centaur by submarine I-117, of which only 64 people survived, including Ellen Savage, awarded the second highest award for an act of bravery, the George Medal, for her actions as the only surviving nurse in tending to the wounded during the 36 hours the survivors spent in the water.