National / History

Tokyo group publishes accounts of '95 Kobe quake survivors

Kyodo

A volunteer group in Tokyo has been publishing the voices of survivors of the January 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake to keep their memories.

Nobumitsu Shirai, 41, deputy head of A-yan Tokyo, first published a 50-page booklet in 1995 when he was a university student, after visiting disaster-hit Kobe in March 1995 as a volunteer worker. The group plans to publish the 15th issue this year and continue to publish it once in two years.

Shirai said he has visited Kobe every year to interview the victims. Right after the disaster, they talked mainly about restoring infrastructure and housing, but after a few years their focus shifted to obtaining jobs.

Although the city is now reconstructed, all of the victims he interviewed told him that they don’t want people to forget about the disaster, he said.

While many of them have strong memories of the earthquake itself, some have forgotten about the difficulties they faced in restoring their lives, Shirai said, adding that he will continue interviewing the survivors.