National

Kobe remembers Great Hanshin Earthquake 22 years on

Kyodo

The city of Kobe and surrounding areas on Tuesday marked the anniversary of the magnitude-7.3 earthquake that killed more than 6,400 people 22 years ago.

A moment of silence was observed at 5:46 a.m., the time when the temblor hit the city on Jan. 17, 1995. Families of victims vowed to keep the memory of the Great Hanshin Earthquake alive for future generations.

People affected by the massive Tohoku quake-tsunami disaster in March 2011 and the major earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture last April joined in prayers for the victims.

A memorial event sponsored by the Kobe Municipal Government was held in a park in the city’s Chuo Ward.

Representing bereaved families, 58-year-old Shinji Otorii spoke of his grief in losing his 32-year-old wife Yumiko at their home in Higashinada Ward.

“I wish I could see her and talk to her, even if it is in my dreams, or even if she is a ghost. … I also want to hear what she wants to tell me,” said Otorii, who now lives in Osaka Prefecture.

Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto said natural disasters in other parts of the country have made him realize danger is always present, saying the city will strengthen its disaster prevention measures and help other areas.

Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido said the country may not have fully used what it learned in the past, saying the unexpected happened in the earthquakes in Tohoku and Kumamoto.

“We must come up with all possible scenarios and prepare for them,” he said.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga echoed Ido’s comments.

“It’s very important that we learn the lessons of the past … and pass them on to future generations,” Suga said.

He urged people to store food, take part in emergency drills and take out disaster insurance as a part of measures to prepare for future disasters.

In addition to the 6,434 killed, the Great Hanshin Earthquake left some 40,000 people injured and 640,000 buildings destroyed or damaged. As many as 310,000 people were forced to find emergency shelter.