MAEBASHI, Gunma Pref. — More than 200 relatives of those killed in the 1985 crash of JAL Flight 123 on Mount Osutaka, Gunma Prefecture, climbed the peak Aug. 12 to pray for the dead.
The Requiem marked the 12th anniversary of the accident, the world’s worst involving a single aircraft.
About 50 families walked the path to the peak, offering flowers and fruit to pay respect to the 520 people who lost their lives in Japan’s worst air disaster.
The accident site is again green, and although Japan Airlines stopped paying transportation expenses for the annual memorial service last year, more people participated in this year’s service than last year’s. Some took the opportunity to rebuild grave posts and to share the tragic memory with younger family members.
“I cannot help but regret when I think about how hard my sister had been working to realize her dream to become a doctor,” said Mitsuhiko Kawaguchi, who lost his sister in the crash. “So I want Japan Airlines to strive for safe flights.”
Said Satoshi Kurihara, 74, whose son and his family died in the crash: “It has become harder for me to climb the mountain as I age. But there is no other way to pray for my loved ones.”
In Uenomura, a town at the foot of the mountain, the relatives organized exhibitions and discussions to create a network among those involved in the tragedy.
At 6:56 p.m., the exact time of the crash, prayers were offered and 520 candles were lit.
Only four of the 524 people aboard the jumbo jet survived after it crashed into the ridge on its way from Tokyo to Osaka.