Memorial service held in quake-hit Hokkaido

Jiji Press
Kiyoto Nakamura, the representative of bereaved family members, bows at a memorial service for victims of an earthquake, in Atsuma, Hokkaido, on Saturday.

ATSUMA, Hokkaido (Jiji Press) — A memorial ceremony was held in Atsuma, Hokkaido, on Saturday for the 44 victims of a powerful earthquake that hit the prefecture nearly four years ago.

Around 80 participants, including bereaved family members, attended the ceremony, where they prayed for the victims and renewed their pledge to rebuild the town.

“We’ll carry out reconstruction for everyone as a ‘town that never gives up,’” Atsuma Mayor Shoichiro Miyasaka said in a speech at the ceremony after the participants offered a silent prayer.

Speaking at the ceremony as the representative of the bereaved family members, Kiyoto Nakamura, who lost his parents in the quake, said in tears: “We’re getting back to normal, but I wish my parents were still alive. I want to live a normal life, as my parents did.”

The quake occurred at 3:07 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2018, registering up to 7, the highest level on Japan’s seismic intensity scale.

A total of 44 people lost their lives in the quake, including three who died due to indirect causes. Over 2,300 houses were destroyed or heavily damaged. The quake knocked out power across Hokkaido.

Reconstruction work was completed by March this year for rivers and roads managed by local governments, according to prefectural officials.

About 90% of damaged facilities under the jurisdiction of the central government have been restored, according to the land ministry, which expects work to be done by March 2024.

Some Atsuma residents are still living in public housing for disaster-affected people.