Two shallow moderate (M ∼ 6) earthquakes occurred in the northwestern part of Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, southern Japan. I discuss the effect of the stress change due to the first earthquake (26 March 1997) on the occurrence of the second earthquake (13 May 1997). The rupture characteristics of the two earthquakes are inferred in two steps to form the basis of the discussion. I first invert strong ground motion data to construct kinematic source models and then estimate the distribution of static stress drop from the derived dislocation distributions. The rupture process of the March event is simple and well described with rupture of a single asperity (patch of high stress drop). On the other hand, multiple asperities on conjugate faults ruptured during the May event. The maximum value of static stress drop for both earthquakes is about 4 MPa, and seems lower than those of other Japanese intraplate earthquakes. The hypocenter and the largest asperity of the May earthquake are located in a stress shadow caused by the March earthquake. Thus the rupture history of the May earthquake is difficult to explain with a static stress change model. Other mechanisms such as fluid migration and dynamic stresses were also investigated, but failed to explain the triggering. I propose the coupled effect of static change in shear stress and normal stress under the rate- and state-dependent friction law as a possible mechanism.

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