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Victims mourned a year after rain disasters in western Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A cenotaph to mourn victims of torrential rain disasters in July last year is unveiled in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on Saturday.

Jiji PressKURASHIKI, Okayama/KURE, Hiroshima (Jiji Press) — Memorial services were held across western Japan on Saturday to remember people killed in torrential rains that triggered landslides and floods a year ago.

Saturday marked the first anniversary since the first of a series of special heavy rain warnings was issued in the disaster that claimed 138 lives in Hiroshima Prefecture, 79 lives in Okayama Prefecture and 33 lives in Ehime Prefecture.

About 300 people attended a memorial service in the Mabi district in Kurashiki, Okayama, where about 30 percent of its areas were flooded at the time.

A minute of silence was observed after the names of about 60 victims were read out.

“I learned firsthand the importance of life, and that teaching will be passed on for generations to come,” Kensuke Saito, 51, who lost his 76-year-old mother, Kanae, in the disaster, said in a speech representing the bereaved families.

“We will all work hard while making the first year of the Reiwa era the first year of our reconstruction,” Kurashiki Mayor Kaori Ito said in a speech, referring to the Imperial era that began in May.

After the service, a cenotaph engraved with vows of reconstruction was unveiled.

In Kure, Hiroshima, where 28 people died in the disaster, about 470 people participated in a memorial ceremony.

Representing the victims’ families, Kumiko Takatori, 42, spoke about her father, Yoshiharu, who died at the age of 67.

“I will live with a feeling of gratitude and my father’s teachings on the importance of being positive, while finding all the things my father could not finish,” she said.

“We will put full effort into supporting the revival of local communities, creating the foundations for industries, and recovering public infrastructure, while prioritizing the rebuilding of livelihoods and providing mental care,” Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki said in a speech.

9,200 still in temporary homes

HIROSHIMA — More than 9,200 people are still living in temporary housing in Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime prefectures about one year after a deadly rain disaster mainly in western Japan.

The number of people living in temporary housing for evacuees, such as prefabricated homes and private housing rented by local municipalities, stands at 1,276 in Hiroshima, 7,203 in Okayama and 780 in Ehime. Other evacuees live in public housing or apartments for public servants.

Evacuees living in leased private-sector housing overwhelm those in housing built for disaster victims, numbering 8,044 and 1,215, respectively.

While the newly built homes make it easier for members of communities to stay close together, the leased private-sector homes do not.

Residents of such leased homes tend to be scattered, living away from their familiar neighborhoods.

How to check the health conditions of these people and prevent their isolation is a big problem.

Many evacuees have voiced concerns about their long stays in temporary homes to their municipalities.

Some are worried about when they will be able to return to their original homes, due to prolonged repair work, while others have said financial concerns give them sleepless nights.

The need to provide assistance and care to such evacuees is increasing, with many having to wait longer and longer to return to normal life.

In the severely affected three prefectures, 53 people, or about 20 percent of the total death toll, have died due to indirect causes related to the disaster, including fatigue prompted by deterioration in living conditions.

Of them, 29 were from Hiroshima Prefectue, 18 from Okayama Prefecture and six from Ehime Prefecture. Nine other people remain missing.

According to the police, 11 other prefectures also saw casualties from the disaster.

The Cabinet Office said a total of ¥13 billion in disaster aid for those whose homes were damaged or destroyed had been distributed to 9,424 households in 12 prefectures as of the end of May. The damages figure is highest since the aid scheme was introduced in 1998.Speech

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