Japan Today

‘Super volunteer’ who found missing child helping residents in flood-struck area


Haruo Obata, 78, who made headlines last week after he found a two-year-old boy missing for three days on Suo-Oshima island in Yamaguchi Prefecture, was back helping others in need on Sunday, this time in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, which was devastated by floods last month.

The media have dubbed Obata — who is from Oita Prefecture — a “super volunteer” — because he often goes to disaster-hit areas to help victims.

On Sunday, he showed up at a volunteer center in Kure, with a car full of food, water and other relief goods, Fuji TV reported. Instead of the headband he wore when he found the missing child, he wore a helmet, upon which he had written a number of uplifting messages.

Many other volunteers approached Obata after he had finished his registration, and they all posed for a photograph together.

Kure is one of the worst-affected areas of the floods, and Obata was assigned to help clear away earth, sand and debris caused by the mudslide from residences. Despite his age and huge beads of sweat on his brow, Obata toiled on with his fellow volunteers.

This is the second time Obata has volunteered in Kure; the previous time was for three weeks after the floods. His experience as a volunteer was demonstrated as he fixed many of the badly-made seams upon the sandbags he was assigned to lay down, and as he instructed his fellow volunteers the proper way to make a sandbag.

Obata said, "I was really happy when they told me 'Welcome back.' However, the work has not progressed much since the last time I was here. All I want is for the area to recover swiftly."

Obata said he will continue his volunteer work until the end of August. He intends to spend each night sleeping in his car.

© Japan Today

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This guy deserves a medal, or some form of official recognition, for what he's done.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

A true hero. I would mind seeing him in charge of one of the ministries in Japan.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

78! Seventyeight! Respect. Some of the ossans from Kasumigaseki could learn from this.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Aside from giving him awards, people should be inspired from this man. Despite his age, he managed to help in volunteer efforts. If he can, so can we

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Top bloke.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Dude has my respect! Here's to hoping that others follow in his footsteps!

(THIS is the omotenashi Japanese)!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

He certainly should be acknowledged for this. Wonderful story. Great man.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

We need more like him. At first, the news said he found him shortly after joining the search party. I thought it was just luck, but then they said how far he came and other volunteering he did. He was offered food and drink from the family, but he only accepted a glass of water. True hero.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sleeping in his car? Can't someone, anyone, offer him a bed?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

 I thought it was just luck, 

To many it was, but to him, he was thinking like a child, and thank goodness he was! The guy never went to college, and all the "educated" types were searching one area, and he thinks "I'm a kid, I want to go UP!" and the rest is history!

Worked his whole life, retired, and decided that the one thing he could do for society is volunteer, and evidently he has been doing it for a long time now.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Its the quite achievers like this guy that carry most countries - he deserves a reward.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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