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.
A 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.
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.
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.
A 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.
Amid virus fears and worries about the fading memories of the fast-aging war generation, about 500 participants, reduced from 6,200 last year, mourned the dead with a minute of silence. Masks were required, and there was no singing of the "Kimigayo” national anthem.
Nine years after a devastating tsunami sparked disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, clean-up and decommissioning continues at the crippled facility.
Pope Francis called on Monday for renewed efforts to help victims of Japan’s 2011 “triple disaster” of earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima meltdown, noting “concern”
Japan’s move to embrace a climate target of carbon neutrality by 2050 could open the way for the beleaguered nuclear industry to fire up again, nearly a decade after the Fukushima disaster shut down most of the country’s reactors.
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