MAEBASHI, GUNMA PREF. – Mourners gathered on a hillside in Gunma Prefecture on Tuesday to mark the 29th anniversary of a plane crash that left 520 people dead.
More than 140 relatives and friends of the victims gathered in heavy rain at the site, known as Osutaka Ridge.
The Japan Airlines Boeing 747 went down while flying from Tokyo to Osaka. It remains the world’s deadliest single-aircraft accident.
The victims included singer Kyu Sakamoto, known for the hit song “Sukiyaki.” Four people aboard the plane survived.
Among those who gathered at a monument at the site to offer prayers for their loved ones was Ryo Izutani, 26, who lost his aunt, Junko, in the crash and has paid regular visits since elementary school.
“When I was little, I would just be taken here without thinking much, but it was such a historically big accident, I now feel that it means a lot to continue conveying it” to new generations, Izutani said.
Hideo Fujikawa, 79, a former colleague of Flight 123’s flight engineer, Hiroshi Fukuda, called on airlines to give more weight to safety, saying today’s carriers put a priority on business instead. “I hope they will take safety into consideration more,” he said.
JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki offered flowers at the monument.
This year has seen a string of deadly air accidents worldwide, including the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet in March, the downing of another Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine in July, and the crash of a passenger aircraft in Taiwan the same month.