Friday, April 19, 2024
Smartphone news

Satellite access offers remote mourning for kin of JAL crash victims

UENO, Gunma Prefecture–Technology came to the rescue of mourners unable to make the tough, midsummer mountain climb here to connect” with loved ones on the 38th anniversary of one of the world’s worst air disasters.

This year, satellite communication was available for the first time at the Mount Osutakayama ridge where a Japan Airlines jumbo jet came down on Aug. 12, 1985, killing 520 passengers and crew members. The ridge is about 1,500 meters above sea level.

Masayoshi Yamamoto, 43, a company employee who lives in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, used the video call feature on his smartphone to zoom in on his father’s grave marker to show to his mother Keiko, 78, and his eldest daughter, Haruno, 8.

His father Kenji was 49 when he perished in the world’s deadliest single-aircraft accident.

“This place is deep in the mountains covered with lush vegetation. (Kenji) is watching over all of us from here,” Masayoshi said through the video call.

Keiko, who lives in Yao, Osaka Prefecture, has been unable to participate in the memorial climb for the past five years due to mobility issues.

The satellite service allowed her to see her husband’s grave marker without having to be physically present.

It was the first time in four years for Masayoshi to climb to the ridge. He shunned the previous anniversaries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m glad I could tell my father that even after 38 years, we haven’t forgotten you,” he said.

He said his mother looked happy on the screen of his smartphone.

“I’m glad I could show my mother the site on this day,” he said. “As the bereaved family members continue to age, I’m grateful that we can do the remote memorial climb.”

This year, 272 people, mainly relatives of the victims, came from all over the country to visit the crash site. 

The number of participants decreased by around 40 percent while the health crisis raged but is now back to pre-pandemic levels.


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