Sad to hear that Hirabayashi Yuko (平林祐子), a 28-year-old woman from Nagahama (Kinomoto) who was missing in Christchurch, New Zealand after the earthquake struck, has been confirmed dead by the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Her death along with the death of a Japanese woman from Chiba were announced. Due to DNA testing, it’s been slow-going to confirm the identity of bodies.
Her parents departed on March 12 from Kansai Airport for New Zealand to claim the body which will be cremated in New Zealand.
Hirabayashi Yuko was a licensed nurse who graduated from Torahime High School and Kobe University’s School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences (神戸大学医学部保健学科). She worked as a maternity nurse at a Kobe hospital until she quit in May 2010.
In July 2010, she moved to Christchurch, New Zealand to study English with the aim of obtaining a nurse’s license in New Zealand.
Her parents and younger brother were planning to visit her in New Zealand in May this year.
A number of people, mostly students, from Shiga were in Christchurch when the quake hit, but they survived and Hirabayashi is the only fatality from Shiga as of this writing. She was a student at King’s Education, a language school housed in the ill-fated building which collapsed and claimed most of Japan’s earthquake victims, especially from Toyama Prefecture. Meanwhile, more missing Japanese in Christchurch await DNA confirmation.
Prayers to Hirabayashi Yuko and her family.
Update: Her funeral was held in Kinomoto on March 27, 2011, attended by about 700 people including the mayor of Nagahama.