A Harley-Davidson motorcycle believed to have traversed the Pacific Ocean to western Canada after being swept from coastal Japan during a March 2011 tsunami has been claimed by a Japanese man.
Ikuo Yokoyama, 29, of Yamamoto, Japan, says a Harley-Davidson representative tracked him down after the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. ran a story about the bike, which was found in a storage container on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii islands, the CBC reported.
Harley-Davidson now intends to restore the bike, which had rusted but still had its Miyagi Prefecture license plate, and send it back to Yokoyama, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported Wednesday.
Yokoyama, who NHK reported lost three family members and his home in the disaster, said he was "so glad that (the motorcycle) will be returned to me.”
“I would like to thank the man who found my bike in person,” Yokoyama said in an NHK interview aired on the CBC.
Peter Mark, a Haida Gwaii resident, told the CBC that he found the container – and the motorcycle, golf clubs, camping equipment and tools inside – on a beach on April 18.
“First I thought, this has got to be the craziest thing anyone has ever found,” Mark told the CBC. “Then I looked a little closer and the license had Japanese writing on it. The wall of the trailer had Japanese print on the tags. And the first thing that popped into my head was this is likely from the tsunami in Japan.”
Thousands of people in Japan were killed on March 11, 2011, during a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami. The tsunami swept an enormous amount of debris from the island nation into the Pacific.
About 70% of the debris sank, according to Japanese government estimates, and no one knows how much of the remaining 1.5 million tons of debris still is floating in the Pacific.
But U.S. officials say some items from the disaster may be washing up on North American shores, thousands of miles from Japan, and that residents along the North Pacific should expect reports of debris to increase and continue over the next couple of years.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there is no current "debris field." Rather, items, large and small, are scattered over a huge swath of the North Pacific and may make landfall intermittently.
Last month, CNN reported that a soccer ball found washed up on a remote Alaskan beach apparently belongs to a Japanese teenager. And the U.S. Coast Guard fired on and sank a rust-stained fishing trawler – swept from Japan by the tsunami – in Alaskan waters, saying that the unmanned vessel was a hazard to mariners.