Victims mourned on 28th anniversary of JAL jet crash

Kyodo, JIJI

About 350 relatives of the victims of the 1985 crash of a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 climbed near the crash site on Mount Osutaka in Gunma Prefecture Monday to mark the 28th anniversary of the nation’s worst air disaster, which claimed 520 lives.

Bound for Osaka’s Itami airport from Haneda, JAL Flight 123, with 524 passengers and crew members aboard, crashed into the mountain on Aug. 12, 1985. There were only four survivors.

To reach the monument dedicated to the victims, which is located on a steep slope, the relatives, many of whom are aging, were aided by students from Tokyo-based Toyo University who are aiming to secure jobs in the aviation industry, JAL officials said.

Later in the day, JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki joined the relatives and offered prayers.

On Sunday evening, the relatives floated lanterns down a river at the foot of Mount Osutaka to console the spirits of the victims.

“I feel I’m close to my father when I come here,” said Risako Uchino, 53, who works at a school in Kawasaki.

Her father, Shinjiro Minami, died in the accident.