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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 16:53 GMT
Japan recalls quake disaster
Relatives pray by a memorial with victims' names
Relatives pray by a memorial with victims' names
The Japanese port of Kobe marked the sixth anniversary of the devastating 1995 earthquake as experts repeated concerns about rising volcanic activity on Mount Fuji.

Kobe residents held prayers and lit 6,432 candles for every person who had died in the tragedy.

It looks like we are moving into an active period in Japan

Japanese expert
Earlier, more than 3,000 people attended a rally retracing the city's evacuation routes in a disaster-prevention exercise.

In Tokyo, Meteorological Agency officials said the number of tiny tremors around Mount Fuji had risen since last August, from just an average of one or two tremors a month, to 133 in October and then 222 in November.

Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji, which towers over Tokyo, last erupted in 1702
However, the tremors fell to 144 in December and have further tapered off this month.

Scientists also said there were no other signs indicating an imminent eruption.

"This sort of activity is rare," seismologist Shozo Matsumura said. "But there is still nothing that could be connected to an eruption anytime in the near future."

'Active period'

Another leading expert said that Japan could face another major earthquake at any time.

It's impossible to predict exactly when it will occur

Japanese expert
Geophysics professor Naoshi Hirata said two volcanic eruptions and a strong earthquake in the country indicated large-scale seismic movement could be approaching.

"It looks like we are moving into an active period in Japan," said Mr Hirata, from Tokyo University's Earthquake Research Institute.

Kobe quake aftermath
The Kobe quake destroyed 250,000 homes
In the aftermath of Kobe, the government has tried to improve prediction of quakes, but scientists still cannot provide crucial details of imminent jolts, such as when and where it will occur.

Mr Hirata said there was a "high possibility" that Tokyo could be hit by a serious quake. The last quake in 1923 devastated the city.

Since the 15th century, he said, Japan had suffered a major quake every 100 years or so.

Kobe's recovery

Man lighting bamboo candles in Kobe
Each candle represented each death from the Kobe quake
Kobe has struggled to overcome the huge impact of the earthquake.

Better services and infrastructure - including new office blocks and malls - were built to attract back the 50,000 people who left after the quake.

However, many of its key industries, such as shoe-making, are still faring badly.

Kobe plans to host some of the games in the 2002 World Cup at a football stadium it is currently building.

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See also:

16 Jan 01 | Americas
Tremors hinder quake relief
06 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Quake shakes western Japan
07 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
100 injured in Japanese earthquake
17 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kobe remembers quake disaster
05 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
The Earth's Ring of Fire
14 Jan 01 | World
Deadly history of earthquakes
18 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Earthquake deaths trebled in 1998
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