RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan — The Japanese coast guard resumed underwater searches this week for some of the more than 2,500 people still missing from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country’s northeast coast.
Six divers entered Hirota Bay in near-freezing temperatures Thursday in a search that was resumed temporarily at the behest of surviving families in the city of Rikuzentakata. As reconstruction of the disaster-hit region gains pace, stretches of the bay have been reclaimed for building sea walls. Relatives fear that the remains of their loved ones might be buried forever. “Some people say to me, do you really want to latch onto this forever?” said 81-year old Chikara Yoshida, who lost his only son, a 43-year-old volunteer firefighter who was trying to help elderly residents escape.
“But for me, as I approach the end of my life, I want to bring him back in any way I can,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which piece of him comes back. Then I can end my days.” Yoshida and his daughter led a petition drive through Facebook earlier this year to resume underwater searches. The response was overwhelming. In just three weeks, 28,140 signed from Japan and abroad.
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