Victims mourned 1 year after Atami mudslide

Jiji Press
Family members of the victims of a major mudslide that occurred a year ago in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, place flowers at a memorial ceremony in the city Sunday.

ATAMI, Shizuoka (Jiji Press) — A ceremony was held Sunday to pay tribute to the 27 victims of a major mudslide that occurred in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, exactly a year ago.

Also on Sunday, the Shizuoka prefectural police department and the Japan Coast Guard conducted search operations to find one missing person, Kazuko Ota.

Participants in the memorial ceremony, held at an elementary school in the disaster-hit Izusan district in Atami, included 44 bereaved family members, as well as senior officials of the city of Atami and Shizuoka Prefecture.

“We’ll work together with people affected by the disaster and make all-out efforts to achieve rehabilitation and reconstruction,” Atami Mayor Sakae Saito said in a memorial address at the ceremony.

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu said, “We’ll work on building safe communities where the lives of residents are protected.”

Yoko Koiso, 72, who lost her daughter, Yuki Nishizawa, then 44, in the disaster, said after the ceremony, “I cannot recall how I spent the past year.”

“Not a day went by without tears and I think that’s how it’s going to be from now on,” she added.

Police and coast guard officers and others totaling some 200 joined the search operations. They searched for the missing woman near a local port into which the mud flowed and areas where entry is restricted in principle due to mudslide risks.

“We’ll not give up as long as there is a possibility [of finding the missing person],” Kazuki Yamamoto, chief of the Shizuoka prefectural police department, said. “We’ll do our best in the search operations with renewed resolve.”

The Atami mudslide occurred on July 3, 2021, after a soil mound built on high ground collapsed following heavy rain. Around 230 people still remain evacuated.