Tsunami survivor to support bereaved families through forensic science
SENDAI -- A university student who lost her mother to the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami is set to work at the Miyagi Prefectural Police force's forensic research department and devote herself to supporting bereaved families.
"I want to support the families who are still searching for their loved ones," said Kaori Narita, a 22-year-old pharmacy student at the University of Toyama from the city of Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, of her dream as she prepares to start a new chapter in her life.
Narita attended Miyagi Prefectural Police force's meeting on Jan. 21 for those who will start their careers there from this spring. She is one of the many families who had to search for their loved ones' bodies after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Amid sorrow and anxiety, Narita looked for her missing mother, 52-year-old Junko, for about a month. In early April 2011, Junko's body was found on the city's shore. The body was identified as Narita's mother through the post office uniform and the ring she was wearing.
Inspired by a TV series, Narita dreamed of becoming a forensic scientist and had earlier decided to study pharmacy. Her dream, however, faced a major setback when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck. Her house was battered by the tsunami and although Narita and her father were safe, her mother who was working at a post office in the city at the time couldn't be found. After taking refuge at a shelter, Narita visited the morgue many times and she was overwhelmed by the number of dead bodies there. Narita worried that she would not recognize her mother even when the body was found.
"To be honest, I had doubts," says Narita about the job offer she received last summer from the police force. Amid flashbacks of the morgue, she started to worry if she was suited to become a forensic scientist. "I wasn't sure if I could deal with a job that faces death and bodies," she said, "but whatever the results turn out to be, finding the bodies of the missing means a lot to their families."
Narita aims to become a criminal identification professional. "I'm here to conduct accurate and prompt research. If my mother was here, she would be saying to work hard and that's what I'm going to do. I want to become a reliable and cheerful woman just like my mother was," says Narita as she smiles with determination.
January 22, 2013(Mainichi Japan)