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One life to live after losing 6 family members in 3/11 disaster

25 Comments
By Yoshiaki Nishikage

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What a heartbreaking story. No words.

33 ( +33 / -0 )

“ At a loss what to do, he walked through the ruins of Kitakami district, only to see his granddaughter Kokoro, just 7 years old, lying on a hillside. He called her name. No answer. So he clutched her tightly in his arms and sobbed inconsolably.

Thinking "she must be cold" but unable to move her body to shelter, Oka removed his own sweatshirt and slipped the garment onto his dead granddaughter. “

Unimaginable pain and suffering that this man had to go through…; I heard a story of a man that found his little girl’s head… horribleit broke my heart…; we should and we will keep listening to these people… and it will keep hitting us every single time.

He took a leave of absence and instead started searching for the three missing family members, including his wife. "I couldn't move on without any trace at all of their remains."

Not only did he search Tsukihama but also all of the surrounding flooded areas. He returned to work after around six months but continued his search on his days off.

And he was still searching in the summer of 2015, four and half years after the disaster. He participated in search activities across the Kitakami River from Tsukihama. Upstream, there was also Okawa Elementary School, where 84 children and teachers were killed. Oka understood that even if he found something, the chances were slim he could recover any remains of family members. Even so, he held onto the feeling of "just maybe."

"I stopped my search right around this time," he said. More than 2,500 people still remain missing in the affected areas from the 3/11 disaster. "But the number of unaccounted-for people in newspapers has stopped decreasing. I don't think (finding remains) is a possibility anymore," he said.

That feeling of not knowing what happened to your loved ones is one of the worst things that you can experience in this life…;

..

[ Oka's feelings of resignation have gradually intensified, while he also had to confront the reality of being on his own when he left temporary housing and settled into his new life.

"I had been living a temporary life, so I didn't really feel it, but I thought that now I have no choice but to go on living alone." ]

You’re a strong man, Mr. Oka…; yes, you still have a place in this world…; I’m wishing you strength and peace.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

kudos to this man for making the most of what's left. I cannot imagine the pain that he must be feeling

17 ( +17 / -0 )

He is a very brave and courageous man and must go on living so that his memories of his family lives on. I salute you sir.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Tsukihama was a really pretty little village.

Popular swimimg spot in summer.

I remember lots of verdant vegetable gardens with bent over obaasans tilling away.

Painful place to visit nowadays, as are all of the smaller deserted villages and towns.

Nothing left but memories.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Heartbreaking story. My deepest respect to you Sir

11 ( +11 / -0 )

RIP Koko.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

What a sad painful story but nothing compared with the sadness and pain of Oka who must have suffered to even continue his life without his family.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

What hurts more is commitment government to that area reconstruction no longer there.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/12/13/national/defense-spending-tohoku-tax/

0 ( +6 / -6 )

There are some very nice new houses there so some people returned. A sea wall was built. Several new factories.

It would be wrong of the government to use the special reconstruction tax for increased defense spending.

The special income tax for reconstruction adds a 2.1% levy to individual income tax through 2037, generating about ¥400 billion ($2.9 billion) in revenue for the government each year.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

So sad…I’m so sorry for your loss.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What a tragic story.

Japan suffers many disasters but that tsunami was a whole level above them. I think we need more personal testimony like this, not just the photos and video we've all seen, to understand the enormity of the personal loss it caused.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Absolutely heartbreaking......

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Instead of buying tomohawk offensive weapons, we should be buying multipurpose helicopters. When the roads, transport systems are destroyed by extreme natural disasters, which is more important to your own countries welfare?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

There are already helicopters but would also need pilots and a very wide range of support systems.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

My heart absolutely breaks for this man (and everyone else who was impacted by this awful day).

I look at my own young family and I couldn't imagine a life without even one of them in it, let alone all of them.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

damn, there are no words to console a person who has lost so much, just pure emptiness.

only that I hope their memories bring you some happiness for the remainder of your life

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Masahiro Oka is a man of outstanding courage, and strength of character to overcome such grief and loss.

Alone, comforted by days arranging photos of his family.

I hope, pray Masahiro Oka search will miraculously bring some closure, other than to confront the reality of being on his own.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What is striking about this tragedy, is Masahiro Oka dignity.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I’m extremely sorry and sad for him all the people like hum who went through so much suffering and pain.

Material things even if destroyed can be replaced but the loss of the beloved one will leave emptiness and sorrow forever.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

May this man (and any like him) have nothing but pure healing and goodness for the rest of his life. After all he lost, that kind of peace is what he deserves most from now on.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So very sad. I am glad the man continues to find the will to live even after all that. It must be incredibly difficult.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Tragic and heartbreaking, no word can describe what he feels. RIP for all his family and people who died on that day :(

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You are stronger than me. May you have a long life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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