Residents Mourn Victims Of 2018 Torrential Rain In Western Japan

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Local residents and bereaved family members of victims held gatherings Monday to mark the second anniversary of massive flooding and mudslides triggered by torrential rain in western Japan that claimed 296 lives.

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, the memorial services in Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures commemorating the worst rain disaster in decades were held with limited attendees and social distancing within the venues.

The events also came as Kumamoto Prefecture in southwest Japan suffers massive flooding after heavy rain since early Saturday, with more than 20 people dead.

In Asakita Ward in the city of Hiroshima, Mayor Kazumi Matsui vowed to boost the city's resilience against natural disasters, saying, "We will make efforts to ensure citizens can live safely and with peace of mind."

Representing the bereaved families, 46-year-old Kenjiro Katayama, who lost his mother and elder sister, said, "With a series of extreme weather events taking place, we are left with the challenge of how to reduce deaths in (future) natural disasters."

At an event held in the Mabi district in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Minoru Oto, whose house was flooded, said, "The past two years have been filled with sad events, but we have to go on living."
Oto, 86, also said his thoughts go out to victims of the flooding in Kumamoto.

Heavy rains hit wide areas in western Japan, also including Ehime Prefecture, between July 6 and 8 in 2018, with the Japan Meteorological Agency issuing emergency warnings.

Memorial services will be held on Tuesday in Ehime Prefecture, which was hard hit on July 7.

The torrential rain left 149 people dead in Hiroshima Prefecture, 89 in Okayama Prefecture and 33 in Ehime. Around 4,300 people are still living in temporary housing in the three prefectures.

The coronavirus pandemic has also affected construction of public housing for disaster victims in the Tenno district in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, pushing back the completion schedule by one month to late July.

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