Disaster readiness adviser Ryoichi Yoshida expresses his chagrin in Sendai on June 22 that despite his warning over the dangers of a concrete block wall, a pupil was killed in its collapse during a recent earthquake in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture. (Video taken by Higashi Nippon Broadcasting Co.)

SENDAI--Disaster readiness adviser Ryoichi Yoshida’s worst nightmare came true when he saw a news report that a concrete block wall at a school had collapsed during a powerful earthquake in western Japan, killing a 9-year-old schoolgirl.

The fallen wall at Juei Elementary School in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, on June 18 was the very one Yoshida saw when visiting there almost three years ago and warned school officials of the danger. The student happened to be walking underneath it when the earthquake struck at 7:58 a.m., toppling it and crushing her.

“I advised the school staff to have the wall inspected because I was stunned to see such a high and long wall that I had never seen at other schools before,” Yoshida, 60, recalls. “Why was she there? Why did she have to take that route? Why did it collapse? I feel chagrined. We could not protect the life (of the girl), which could have been protected.”

Yoshida, who lives in Sendai’s Taihaku Ward, had visited the school in November 2015 to lecture on disaster readiness by showing photos of devastation caused by past earthquakes, such as collapsed walls and toppled vending machines.

Yoshida, who experienced an earthquake that struck off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture in June 1978, exactly 40 years ago, talked to children during the lecture.

“You will need to be aware because even familiar-looking objects can turn into dangerous weapons when a disaster occurs,” he told them.

Yoshida regrets the girl’s death saying, “I think that the girl, who was a first-grader at that time, heard my lecture and found out how scary block walls can be through seeing the photos I showed.”

Based on what Yoshida saw while visiting the school, he compiled a report titled, “Security of school-commuting roads,” and sent it to Juei's vice principal via e-mail on Dec. 7, 2015.

The vice principal replied to Yoshida saying, “We would like to share (the provided information) with the local community and utilize it.”

Therefore, Yoshida thought the school staff would take corrective measures by replacing the high wall, which blocks passers-by view of the school swimming pool, with some kind of privacy screen. However, the wall remained unchanged.

After his warning, the information was relayed from the school to the Takatsuki municipal board of education, but the city government staff judged that the block wall was "no problem" after its inspection.

Yoshida criticizes the failure to protect the girl saying, “We cannot overcome disasters without sharing a sense of crisis and getting ready for more than the assumed degree of damages.

“Wasn’t there a gap between the level of seriousness of the elementary school staff and that of the municipal board of education?”