The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

Fire brigade heroes of Otsuchi who died during the tsunami in Iwate

Fire brigade heroes of Otsuchi who died during the tsunami in Iwate

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 Otsuchi and many towns have been destroyed
Otsuchi and many towns have been destroyed
Many foreign embassies have pulled out of Tokyo and some foreign nationals in leafy Tokyo have gone back home and of course some Japanese nationals have moved out of Tokyo.  However, while Tokyo escaped the ravages of the earthquake and tsunami the brave fire fighters of Otsuchi gave everything and died while trying to warn people to flee. 

The contrast could not be more different; you have people facing little danger who have fled Tokyo on either a whim or a false rumor or because it is all about the self and nothing about supporting Japan. 

However, for the fire brigade heroes of Otsuchi they gave everything and sadly some fell while the onrushing force of the tsunami was heading straight towards them.  These brave souls, some who died during the tragedy and others who managed to survive, should be honored and remembered for their love of humanity in the face of an unrelenting force which would soon engulf Otsuchi.

The local fire brigade at No. 2 branch in Otsuchi in Iwate could see the tsunami unfolding and they knew that the consequences would be severe and devastating.  Therefore, they tried to secure the barrier which was meant to protect the coastal town or to limit the impact of any resulting tsunami.

Yet the power of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake which unleashed such a powerful and deadly tsunami could not be predicted and nor could it be repulsed. 

Despite the unfolding tragedy and the limited time available, the No. 2 branch of the fire brigade did not flinch or think about personal survival.  Instead they did their best to warn residents about the disaster which was about to engulf Otsuchi because they knew full well that this tsunami was going to sweep away this town.

It is known that four members of the fire brigade died during the disaster which killed so many in Otsuchi and it appears that another seven may also be dead because seven more members have not been found.  However, what it not known to many people is that the fire brigade service did everything to help the people of Otsuchi.

It was the duty of the No. 2 branch fire brigade in the Akahama district of Otsuchi to close the storm barrier gates when an earthquake struck the region.  Yet their bravery was unforeseen, just like the power of the earthquake and tsunami was unforeseen because the 9.0-magnitude earthquake unleashed a tsunami which was unstoppable.

It is reported that Fujio Koshida was still sounding the warning bell while the waves were about to engulf him and sweep him away from this world.

The earthquake had shut down the power supply therefore the warning system was not functional and Kunio Tobinai had been thwarted by this.  When he returned and told Fujio Koshida he was told by him to “get going and evacuate everyone.”

The last time Kunio Tobinai saw Fujio Koshida was with him holding a fire bell and this fire bell could be heard from a distance.  Takeyasu Tobai, the former head of the same branch of the local fire brigade, stated that he could hear the bell that Fujio Koshida was ringing in order to warn people.

Sadly, Takeyasu Tobai stated, “I guess he could see the sea” and “It was a sad sound. I can still hear it.”  

Fujio Koshida and other members of the local fire brigade in Otsuchi gave everything. At the moment it would appear that 11 members died but currently only four bodies of the eleven have been found.

It is hoped that these brave individuals, unlike the fleeing members of some embassies in leafy Tokyo, will be honored and always remembered for giving everything.

Fujio Koshida and all members of this fire brigade, irrespective if they died or survived, did everything in their power to help the people of Otsuchi and for this I take my hat off and bow to all the members of this brave and dedicated fire brigade. (please visit)   (Information in Japanese about this tragedy)   (Information in English about this tragedy)    (Information about Otsuchi)

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