People in Japan have held ceremonies to honor hundreds of victims of torrential rains, flooding, and landslides, one year after the disaster ravaged communities throughout the western part of the country.
A large crowd gathered for a memorial service in the district of Mabi in the city of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture on Saturday. The area was particularly hard hit.
Participants offered silent prayers for the dead.
Kurashiki Mayor, Kaori Ito, noted that many people lost their lives when floodwaters broke through embankments in the district. She promised to pass on lessons learned from the tragedy to make the city more resilient to disasters.
Kensuke Saito, who lost his mother in the disaster, spoke on behalf of bereaved families. He said he was powerless to help his mother, even though she was nearby when she died.
Saito said his mother had been eagerly looking forward to seeing her grandchildren grow up.
About 470 people attended a memorial service in the city of Kure in Hiroshima Prefecture, where 28 people died.
Kure Mayor, Yoshiake Shinhara, offered condolences to people who lost loved ones. He pledged to work hard to help people get their lives back to normal.
Kumiko Takatori lost her father in the disaster. She said every time it rains, she's forced to remember.
Takatori said she lives now with the belief that there was a reason why she survived. She said she's grateful to everybody for helping her to move forward with her life, even if slowly.
NHK has established that 273 people died and nine remain missing across 14 prefectures.
221 deaths were from causes directly attributed to the disaster, such as landslides and flooding, while 52 people subsequently died from reasons related to the disaster, such as time spent at shelters.