TOKYO, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Japan's defense minister said Friday he was considering stepping down to take responsibility for the collision sinking of a fishing boat by a navy destroyer.
Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba told a parliamentary committee he would not quit immediately, Kyodo reported.
Ishiba said the family of the father and son killed in the Feb. 19 incident involving the destroyer Atago and the trawler, as well as others, indicated they want him to stay on until the investigation is completed and safety measures devised, the Japanese news service said.
"I intend to make my own judgment," Ishiba told the House Budget Committee.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said he "would like to see reforms achieved under the initiative" of Ishiba, Kyodo reported.
"No one other than Mr. Ishiba understands well the current state of the Defense Ministry," Fukuda said.
The trawler sinking was the first serious accident involving a Japanese naval vessel since 30 people died in a July 1988 collision between a submarine and a fishing boat. The head of Japan's defense agency at the time resigned about one month later.