Memorial services were held on Friday morning to commemorate the 19th year anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The earthquake, which occurred in 1995, hit the city of Kobe in western Japan and nearby areas, killing 6,434 people.
A moment of silence was offered for the victims of the massive earthquake at 5:46 AM. People joined the memorial services, including some survivors of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Mayor Kizo Hisamoto said that, “it is their duty as rebuilders of Kobe to pass on the lessons learnt from the disaster,” calling on the people to remember. Since 40 percent of Kobe’s current population was not present at the time to experience the disaster first-hand, issues on disaster preparedness, and how ready the city is, surfaced as a predicted mega-quake from the Nankai Trough will affect Kobe greatly.
Bamboo lanterns lit with candles formed the numbers 1.17 at a monument in Higashi-Yuenchi Park in Central Kobe. The monument also contains engraved names of the victims of the 1995 earthquake. Isamu Uenishi lost his father in the earthquake and has been visiting every monument erected in the area to mourn for the victims. Others commemorated the earthquake victims in the Tohoku region and held smaller memorial services there. 15 people gathered in Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture to light lanterns with the flame of Kobe’s “Light of Hope” monument. 13-year old Mako Oikawa, one of the participants in the event in Ofunato in Iwata, said that she “wants to continue to speak for the dead in Tohoku the same way people have been doing in Kobe.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for his part, offered his condolences while at a meeting for disaster management in Tokyo. “To all those who lost their lives, and to the survivors, I extend my sympathies and my wishes for recovery,” said Abe.