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Niigata quake victims remembered in ceremony

Jiji Press

Victims’ families pray in front of the altar at a joint memorial ceremony in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, on Sunday.

Jiji Press KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata (Jiji Press) — A memorial ceremony marked the 10th anniversary on Sunday of a deadly 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck off the Chuetsu region in Niigata Prefecture.

At 10:13 a.m., the time when the quake occurred 10 years ago, about 700 ceremony participants, including victims’ family members and Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama, offered silent payers and paid floral tributes to 15 people who died in the quake.

The ceremony was held in the Sea of Japan coastal city of Kashiwazaki, jointly organized by the municipal governments of Kashiwazaki and the village of Kariwa.

“The 10 years seemed long but were short,” Hiroshi Inomata, 56, from Kashiwazaki, said. His father, a high school teacher, was killed in the quake.

“After 10 years, I still cannot catch up with my father,” said Inomata, also a high school teacher.

Haruo Motoi, who lost his mother in the quake, spoke about torrential rain that left more than 30 people dead in the northern part of the Kyushu southwestern region this month. “We need to be prepared, remembering that a disaster can happen at any time,” said Motoi, 62.

The 2007 earthquake registered upper 6 on the 10-notch Japanese seismic intensity scale in Kashiwazaki, Kariwa and two other municipalities. In addition to the 15 deaths, all in Niigata Prefecture, a total of 2,346 people were injured in Niigata, Toyama and Nagano prefectures.

At Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the No. 4 reactor came to an emergency halt due to the quake, while a fire occurred at a transformer of the No. 3 reactor.

TEPCO aims to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant and the Nuclear Regulation Authority is currently screening its application.

After attending the memorial ceremony, TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa told reporters that he plans to visit the local communities to gain support for the power station.

About 7,000 homes were destroyed or heavily damaged in the Niigata quake. As of the end of June, 202 residents from 120 household lived in public housing for disaster victims.Speech

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