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109-yr-old Olympic torch bearer in Japan completes relay leg

Shigeko Kagawa, the torch bearer for the Olympic flame relay's fifth section of the second day in Nara Prefecture, is seen with the torch mounted on a wheelchair in the city of Yamatokoriyama, on April 12, 2021. (Pool photo)

YAMATOKORIYAMA, Nara -- The oldest torch bearer in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay so far completed her section in a wheelchair in this west Japan city on April 12.

    Local resident Shigeko Kagawa, 109, continued practicing obstetrics and gynecology in the community into her 80s. She also worked at a hospital in the city of Osaka during World War II. She witnessed the city as a burned-out ruin after a U.S. air raid, and people's lives being snuffed out in an instant. On April 12, Kagawa carried the Olympic flame with the wish for "lasting world peace" in her heart.

    Kagawa's granddaughter-in-law Natsuko Watanabe, 47, who lives in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, applied for Kagawa to become a torch bearer in secret, after hearing her saying, "I can't die before seeing the Tokyo Olympics." When the Olympics as well as the torch relay were postponed to 2021 she decided "to live a year more no matter what," and she was looking forward to her date with the flame.

    With a torch in her hands, Kagawa stood up to receive the flame. She waved to people cheering her on along the way while Watanabe pushed her wheelchair. As she completed the about 200-meter relay leg with a smile, she waved her right hand.

    (Japanese original by Natsumi Tanaka, Nara Bureau)

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