A paraplegic Japanese fisherman without a life jacket survived for 15 hours after falling into the sea by keeping himself afloat, the coast guard said on Friday.
Toshiyuki Nashiro, 55, was alone on his small boat when it capsized in rough waters near Miyako, part of the Okinawa chain in the East China Sea.
His family called for help when Nashiro did not return home on Monday night. At the time, he was keeping himself afloat with his arms.
“I thought about the faces of my family. As I had trust in the rescuers, I had no worries,” Nashiro said after the ordeal, looking relaxed as he enjoyed a beer.
Nashiro’s legs are paralyzed from diver’s disease and he can only walk for a few meters without support.
He was chasing a big squid when he fell into the water.
“I was excited for a big catch. It may have been as big as around 3kg but a huge wave turned the boat over,” he told the private Fuji Television network.
He added the toughest thing during his ordeal was to keep his eyes open.
“My eyes were hurting as I was only looking at the sea,” he said.
A fellow fisherman said on television: “We found his capsized boat but didn’t worry much. We knew he would be fine.”
The Japan Coast Guard voiced surprise after rescuing him on Tuesday morning nearly 3km off Miyako.
“I couldn’t believe that he pulled through in the cold, silent sea,” a local coast guard official said. “He was scurrying about with his arms ... but he never panicked.”