• Kyodo


Memorial ceremonies Friday marked the 19th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which devastated Kobe and the surrounding area, resulting in the loss of 6,434 lives.

Survivors of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami joined Kansai residents at the ceremonies, observing a moment of silence at 5:46 a.m. to honor the victims of the Jan. 17, 1995, quake.

With people who did not experience the disaster accounting for more than 40 percent of Kobe’s current population, there are concerns the city may be falling behind in disaster-preparedness.

“It is our duty as the re-builders of Kobe to pass on the lessons learned from the disaster,” Mayor Kizo Hisamoto said in a statement.

Kobe is one of the areas likely to be hit by a powerful quake predicted in the Nankai Trough off central and western Japan.

In Higashi-Yuenchi Park in central Kobe, where a monument is engraved with victims’ names, bamboo lanterns were arranged to form the numerals 1.17 as attendees lit candles.