A father who lost his 12-year-old daughter in the massive tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in 2011 said Thursday he will take part in the torch relay for next summer's Tokyo Olympics.

Noriyuki Suzuki, whose daughter Mai was a sixth-grader at the Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, said he received an email from the local municipality saying he has been selected as one of the torchbearers.

"I want to run for a cause and share with the world lessons learned from the Okawa Elementary School incident," said Suzuki, 54, who lodged an application to be a torchbearer in the official process that began in June.

(Noriyuki Suzuki, pictured in September 2019)

Suzuki's daughter was one of 74 pupils of the city-run school who, along with 10 teachers and officials, have been confirmed dead or missing after the tsunami that followed the magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11, 2011.

The victims remained on school grounds for about 50 minutes after the major earthquake struck and were swept away while starting to evacuate.

"I'm really glad (to be selected). I was worried that I might not be chosen," said Suzuki, who plans to wear Mai's school badge on his chest during his relay leg.

"I'm hoping the spirits of all the children who died, not just Mai's, will join me when I run."

About 10,000 torchbearers, over half of whom will be selected from the general public, will wind their way through all 47 Japanese prefectures, including areas devastated by recent natural disasters. Each leg of the relay is roughly 200 meters.

The Japan segment of the relay will begin on March 26 in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the northeastern areas devastated in the 2011 disaster, and will last 121 days.

The Tokyo Games organizing committee said in September that it has received more than 535,000 applications from the public in collaboration with the prefectural governments and four corporate sponsors.

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