The first of over two dozen Japanese believed killed in the earthquake in Christchurch last month has been identified as the former principal of a high school in Toyama Prefecture.
New Zealand authorities on Sunday identified the deceased as Yoshiko Hirauchi, 61, in a meeting with relatives and Japanese officials earlier in the day in Christchurch, the Foreign Ministry said.
She is the first of 28 missing Japanese to be accounted for since the Feb. 22 quake.
Hirauchi was among the 28 students from a language school in the city of Toyama who were studying at King’s Education, a language school in the six-story Canterbury TV building that collapsed in the quake.
Hirauchi had been the principal at a public high school in Toyama Prefecture until last March. She retired to study English in New Zealand and had hoped to go on to graduate school.
Hirauchi’s body was identified from her dental records, Japanese officials in the city said.
The government is working to return the Hirauchi’s body to Japan soon, Prime Minister Naoto Kan told reporters.
Recovery work at the collapsed Canterbury TV building finished Saturday, with the death toll from the earthquake standing at more than 160.
Local police said about 90 bodies, including students from other Asian countries, were recovered from the rubble.
Request by Maehara
Outgoing Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, who announced his resignation Sunday over a donation scandal, on Monday called his New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully, and sought his government’s support in identifying Japanese victims of the earthquake in Christchurch on Feb. 22, officials said.
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