• Chunichi Shimbun


A Japanese documentary on the 1959 Typhoon Vera, titled “Sorezore no Isewan Taifu” (“Each Person’s Isewan Typhoon”), will begin screening on Saturday in three prefectures in the Tokai region.

The film features firsthand accounts from the typhoon’s few remaining survivors and puts together a complete picture of the tropical cyclone, ending with lessons to be learned from the past.

“Most of the children and their parents don’t even know about the typhoon,” said 42-year-old producer Motoshi Kato, who was born in Asahi, Mie Prefecture, after Typhoon Vera.

“It is the third-deadliest natural disaster to strike the country after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake,” Kato said.

“I want people to look into this history and be reminded of the importance of human lives and the strength of human tenacity,” Kato said.

A film production committee of volunteers acquired the donations and cooperation from companies needed to finance the project.

Nichiei Eizo Ltd., which specializes in documentaries, produced the film.

The crew followed 55 survivors for six months. Their accounts describe how each of those caught up in the disaster encouraged one another by singing popular songs together even as they were submerged to their necks in the flood waters.

Some of the survivors were volunteers, who were still high school students when they helped with the relief work, and a doctor who treated victims.

Forty-three personal experiences are featured in the two-hour documentary, which also shows images from the disaster and is narrated by actress Keiko Takeshita.

The crew also interviewed people from the village of Kawakami in Nara, where more than 50 firefighters were killed by a landslide that swept over them during a rescue operation.

The number of casualties in Nara was estimated to be more than 140.

They also filmed scenes in the United States after tracking down a former U.S. soldier who was involved in conducting a helicopter rescue mission, and reenacted the entire scene using the same type of chopper.

“We took another look at the facts laid down by these survivors and included many first-hand accounts that have not been told before,” 72-year-old director Toshio Honda said.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by local daily Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Sept. 26.

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