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Monday, January 13, 2014

Search Continues For Missing 3/11

I don't know if it's just a sad thing or one that hints at just how much people care about the souls of those who perished but whose bodies are still missing after the March 11, 2011 disaster... but every month... every 11th of the month... locals volunteer their time in Iwate-ken, Miyagi-ken and Fukushima-ken to search for missing tsunami victims.

Those three prefectures were the hardest hit on March 11, after a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake spawned a series of massive tsunami that slammed into the areas causing unimaginable damage - unimaginable for everyone lucky enough to have not been a part of it.

That day... and in the ensuing days after it... Japan faced an official death toll of 18,800, with some 2,640 people still officially unaccounted for in these three prefectures - 1,287 people from Miyagi-ken.

Local police, the Japanese Maritime Safety Agency and locals volunteered to search for missing people at the behest of families - 60 searchers prodding the coast of Kesennuma-shi (Kesennuma City in Miyagi-ken was devastated in a mere seven minutes) for remains.

The team of searchers did not find any remains or possessions along the area - searched many times previously in the past... in fact, no remains have been found from the disaster in well over a year... which begs the question, why do families still want their loved ones found and why do volunteers want to help out?

Why are they still looking?

I suppose it is because the families want closure... they want remains or possessions that they can create for a proper Buddhist cremation... to help the dead get to the next stage of being... and the volunteers understand that. It's a Buddhist thing as well as a Japanese thing. But then again, it's a human thing... to want to have closure... to assume that the dead need to be comfortable in the after-life... to ensure that the spirits do not turn evil and come to harm the living.

Hey... it's the faith of the Buddhist philosophy. No stranger in believing in a virgin giving birth. It's faith.

I do wonder how long these searches will go on, though...

Andrew Joseph

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