Memorial Held for Victims of Heavy Rain in W. Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Attendees pray for torrential rain victims at a memorial service in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on Thursday.

KURASHIKI/HIROSHIMA (Jiji Press) — Memorial ceremonies were held Thursday for over 300 lives lost in a deadly rain disaster that mainly hit western Japan in 2018.

Thursday marked the fifth anniversary of the first in a series of special heavy rain warnings that were issued in the torrential rains.

Around 210 bereaved family members, local residents and others attended a ceremony held in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, where 75 people died as a result of the disaster.

“Our reconstruction efforts have been going along smoothly thanks to the hard work of those affected in the disaster and efforts by relevant organizations,” Okayama Gov. Ryuta Ibaragi said, voicing resolve to create a prefecture resilient to disasters.

Kozo Mimaru, 63, who lost his 85-year-old mother, said, “I deeply regret not having urged her to evacuate sooner.”

“Making the importance of creating systems to encourage elderly residents to evacuate early and ensure no one is left behind more widely known will be my way of honoring my mother,” he said.

A ceremony held in Aki Ward, Hiroshima, brought together around 60 people. The ward lost 19 lives.

“I still can’t help but feel great sorrow when I think about the deep grief those left behind must be feeling,” Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said.

“Reconstruction work has progressed, and our lives are returning to normal. But no matter how many days have passed, the wounds in my heart have not healed,” said Junji Doi, 36, who lost his first son.

“I overcame various difficulties thanks to the warm support of many people,” he added.

The 2018 disaster claimed the lives of people in 14 prefectures, with Okayama, Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures accounting for 280 of the deaths, including those that resulted from disaster-related indirect causes.