National

Six months after heavy rains hit parts of western Japan, relatives and survivors mourn those who died in the disaster

JIJI

Victims of last July’s torrential rain that hit parts of western Japan were remembered Sunday, six months after the first special heavy rain warning during the disaster was issued.

Bereaved relatives and residents laid flowers on an altar set up within the premises of a residential complex in the Higashiyano district of Aki Ward in the city of Hiroshima, where a landslide occurred due to the rain.

In the city, 23 people had been confirmed dead in the disaster as of the end of 2018. Two others remain missing.

“We aim to make good progress in reconstruction work by this year’s rainy season so that many local residents will feel safe,” Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui told reporters after offering flowers to the victims.

The mayor also vowed to provide “as much support as possible to evacuated residents to help them return to normal life.”

“I feel the same as when the disaster occurred,” said Tsuneo Kanbara, 74, who lost his grandson, Shotaro Ueki, an 18-year-old high school third-grader, in the disaster. “I had no New Year’s events” at the beginning of 2019, he said.

“All people in our communities must join forces to create a system” to reduce damage from disasters, Kanbara said. “Things might get broken, but nobody should die in disasters.”