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The Kumamoto Prefecture town of Mashiki held a memorial ceremony Sunday for those who perished in huge earthquakes that struck the prefecture five years ago.

It was the first Mashiki-sponsored memorial over the 2016 quake in three years. There was no such event in the past two years because restoration work for the venue had not yet been completed.

“Our experiences and the lesson learned through the disaster must not be wasted,” said a bereaved family member who participated in the day’s ceremony.

In 2016, Kumamoto was hit by a powerful foreshock on April 14, followed by the main quake two days later. Both registered the maximum intensity of 7 on the Japanese seismic scale in the town of Mashiki.

In the ceremony, all participants observed a minute of silent prayer. It was followed by a speech by Miwa Nagaishi, 41, who lost a grandfather and a grandmother in the main quake.

“It is important to pass (our experiences) to the generation who does not know the Kumamoto quakes and to make preparations for disasters,” Nagaishi said.

Mashiki Mayor Hironori Nishimura said that the municipal government will work for those who lost their homes until the end.

The number of participants to the event was limited to a minimum amid the novel coronavirus epidemic. About 130 people attended, including 28 bereaved family members as well as Ground Self-Defense Force personnel.

The quakes left 273 people dead, including those who died from indirect causes.

At the end of March, 418 evacuees in 150 households were living in provisional housing or other facilities. In Mashiki, the death toll stood at 45, and 281 people in 96 households were living as evacuees.

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