Japan falls silent to mark 10th anniversary of tsunami disaster - GulfToday

Japan falls silent to mark 10th anniversary of tsunami disaster


A man who lost his family in the March 11, 2011 tsunami offer prayers with his daughter by the seashore in Natori on Friday. AFP

Gulf Today Report

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.

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

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.

Tsunami11-annuversaryA woman throws flowers into the sea to mourn victims of March 11, 2011 tsunami in Minamisoma. Reuters

Huge waves triggered by the 9.0-magnitude quake — one of the strongest on record — crashed into the northeastern coast, destroying towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.

The quake had crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant and forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee as radiation spewed into the air.


Japan-10th-anniversary-1People pray for victims of the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami, at a memorial cenotaph in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, Japan. AP

People, some carrying bouquets, walked to the coast to pray for relatives and friends washed away by the tsunami. Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are scheduled to observe a moment of silence at a memorial service later on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.


The magnitude 9.0 quake that struck on March 11, 2011, was one of the biggest temblors on record and set off a massive tsunami that swept far inland, destroying towns and causing meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. More than 18,000 people died in the triple disaster and nearly half a million people were displaced.

Japan-Tsunami11A man who lost his family in the March 11, 2011 tsunami visits the seashore with his daughter to offer prayers. AFP

Ten years later, more than 40,000 people are still unable to return home, most of them from Fukushima, where areas near the wrecked plant are still off-limits due to radioactive contamination.

Japan-10th-anniversaryA person prays on the 10th anniversary of the 2011 earthquake  at a graveyard in Namie. AP

Roads, train lines, and other key infrastructure and housing have mostly been completed at the cost of more than 30 trillion yen ($280 billion), but land remains empty in coastal towns further north in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, where existing population losses were accelerated by the disaster.


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Fukushima has fallen behind in the recovery efforts because of the radiation impact, with 2.4% of the prefectural land still no-go zones near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The decommissioning of its melted reactors is an unprecedented challenge, with some questioning after 10 years of work whether it can be done at all.

Japan-11AnnuversaryA resident throws leaves, bearing messages to loved ones, to the sea in Soma. AFP

Thursday’s ceremony will be the last national commemoration for the 2011 disaster organized by the government. It comes just two weeks before the Olympic torch run begins from Fukushima ahead of the delayed Tokyo Summer Games in July.

Suga has said the Olympics will showcase Japan’s recovery from the disaster and will be proof of human victory against the coronavirus pandemic, but some disaster survivors say their recovery is still only half done.

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