Ten years on, Japan mourns victims of earthquake and Fukushima disaster

With a moment of silence, prayers and anti-nuclear protests, Japan on Thursday mourned about 20,000 victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan 10 years ago, destroying towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.

Let's take a look:

Minute's silence

A minute's silence was observed across the country at 2.46 pm local time (0546 GMT), the precise moment a 9.0 magnitude quake hit off the northeast coast on March 11, 2011.

(Photograph:AFP)

One of the strongest earthquake on record

Around 18,500 people were killed or left missing in the disaster, most of them claimed by the towering waves triggered by one of the strongest quakes ever recorded.

The ensuing nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant blanketed nearby areas with radiation, rendering some towns uninhabitable for years and displacing tens of thousands of residents.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Unimaginably enormous damage'

Speaking at a ceremony in Tokyo's national theatre, Emperor Naruhito said the "unforgettable memory of the tragedy" persisted a decade on.

"Many of those afflicted, in spite of their having suffered from unimaginably enormous damage, have overcome numerous hardships by helping one another," he added.

The annual memorial event was held before a smaller audience than usual, with the capital and nearby areas currently under a virus state of emergency.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Overcome every crisis with courage and hope'

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the challenges faced by survivors had been compounded by the pandemic and natural disasters, including a recent strong quake in the region, classified as an aftershock of the 2011 tremor.

But he said Japan had always "overcome every crisis with courage and hope".

The Japanese government has spent about $300 billion (32.1 trillion yen) to rebuild the region, but areas around the Fukushima plant remain off-limits, worries about radiation levels linger and many who left have settled elsewhere.

(Photograph:Twitter)

Private and public commemorations

Private and public commemorations were seen across Japan as bereaved local residents laid flowers at graves and placed letters to missing family members into the sea.

(Photograph:AFP)

Beating drums and chanting prayers

In Fukushima prefecture's Hisanohama, a group of locals gathered by the shore, where a line of Buddhist monks marched past beating drums and chanting prayers.

(Photograph:AFP)

Antinuclear rally

The mass demonstrations against nuclear power seen in the wake of 3/11 have faded, but distrust lingers. Some protesters held an antinuclear rally in front of the headquarters of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power on Thursday night.

(Photograph:AFP)

Fireworks and lanterns

Local residents released lanterns and burst firecrackers to connect to the souls of the victims and pray for a bright future.

 

(Photograph:AFP)

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