34
THE LOST JAPANESE

About a month earlier, there were three Japanese men
related to Tomen Suisan, that had boarded another factory ship
named Pyotr Ilichov. One man was an employee of Tomen
Suisan and the two others were sujiko technicians Tomen
Suisan had hired.
Pyotr Ilichov was after pink salmon, which were salmon
that were caught at the early stages of the entire salmon fishing,
and the three Japanese were stuck on the ship since the pink
salmon catch was extremely good.
No clear reports had been heard from them during the past
month. Facsimile letters were received from Russia but they
were almost useless. The letters were translations coming
through three stages: the Japanese wrote Japanese in the
English alphabet; the English alphabet was replaced by the
Russian alphabet by the Russian wire officer on board Pyotr
Ilichov
so that it could be wired to Lenin Kolkhoz; Lenin
Kolkhoz changed the Russian alphabet back to the English
alphabet again and sent it to Japan by facsimile.
None of the Russians understood the Japanese sounds, and
the Russian alphabet and the English alphabet are not
equivalent, which made the result almost meaningless.
The Tomen Suisan headquarters wanted to know
information like the total amount of the sujiko production or
the situation of the pink salmon catch, but they were all
unknown, including the dead-or-alives of the three Japanese.
"For heaven's sake! You can't keep on with the Russians!"
said the management of Tomen Suisan with a weary face. Their
orders never reached Mr. Kojima, the young Tomen Suisan
Employee and Mr. Yonemoto and Mr. Hasegawa, the two
technicians. Even when the Tomen Suisan people asked Lenin
Kolkhoz for information of Pyotr Ilichov, the Lenin Kolkhoz
people seemed to ignore them, giving them excuses like the
difficulty to being in contact with the ship.
The orders I bore was to catch up to Pyotr Ilichov, and
bring one of the technicians to Cerograska so that the two ships
could produce sujiko with two Japanese on each ship.
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