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Japan marks 3rd anniversary of quake-tsunami disaster


Japan on Tuesday marks the third anniversary of the quake-tsunami disaster which swept away 18,000 victims, destroyed coastal communities, and sparked a nuclear emergency that forced a re-think on atomic power.

Remembrance ceremonies will be held in towns and cities around the disaster zone and in the capital Tokyo, where Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are to lead tributes to those who lost their lives in Japan's worst peace-time disaster.

Many local governments will switch on a tsunami alarm siren at 2:46 p.m., marking the exact moment a 9.0-magnitude undersea quake hit.

Its raw force unleashed a towering tsunami. Within minutes, communities were turned to matchwood, and whole families had drowned.

Waves also crashed into the Fukushima nuclear plant, sparking reactor meltdowns and explosions, and setting off the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

The crippled plant remains volatile and experts say the complicated decommissioning process will take decades, as fears persist over the long-term health effects of leaked radiation. The accident forced tens of thousands to flee from areas around the shattered site.

Although no one died as a direct result of Fukushima, about 1,650 area residents died from complications related to stress and other problems following the accident.

A total of 15,884 people are confirmed to have died in the tsunami with another 2,636 unaccounted for. Searchers still find human remains.

Despite the government pledging hundreds of billions of yen in reconstruction aid, progress in disaster-hit regions has been slow, and thousands of disaster refugees struggle to cope.

Among almost 270,000 evacuees from the tsunami and Fukushima, about 100,000 are in temporary housing while others found shelter in new cities or with relatives.

Japan has so far built only 3.5% of the new homes promised to disaster refugees in heavily affected Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

That has sowed doubt among many people, with some 77% of Japanese saying the pace of reconstruction has fallen short, according to a poll conducted by Kyodo News and other media organizations in March.

On Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who swept to power in late 2012, said Tokyo was only "halfway" done.

"I'm determined to accelerate the recovery and not let this disaster fade from memory," he told the Diet. "Japan's revival won't come without the restoration of devastated areas."

Fierce anti-nuclear sentiment may have subsided, but it still poses a challenge to Abe's bid to breathe life into Japan's long-tepid economy.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of citizens staged an anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo ahead of the anniversary, voicing anger at the premier's plan to switch on shuttered nuclear reactors, which once supplied more than a quarter of the resource-poor nation's power.

Abe repeated his view Monday that reactors which can be deemed safe would be turned back on. All of Japan's reactors were switched off after the accident.

But Abe, who said he regularly eats rice grown in the Fukushima region, added in a press briefing that "having experienced the accident, it's only natural for people to be concerned about the safety of nuclear plants".

Despite Tokyo's push to boost alternative energy, power sourced from wind farms and solar energy remains a fraction of Japan's needs.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I can hardly believe it's been 3 years already. I hate the sound of warning sirens of any type, and sounding them on the anniversary would freak me out even more. I understand why they are doing it, but I think bell tolls would have been a better choice in my opinion.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Here in Christchurch we also had our three year anniversary. We were in Sendai last year. WE stayed in Kesennuma for a few days as well. These events still leave us shattered. Stay strong, stay positive. We are thinking of you.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Many of those brave souls had (or will have) a long road to recovery not only in the physical sense, but also emotionally. I can only hope that the aid that they receive will be enough for those who need it. Now, maybe when we go to bed tonight, we can thank our lucky stars that we have a bed to go to. My heart and my tax dollars (yen) are happily extended to the people affected by the disaster.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My whole heart goes to the families whose love ones were lost in 3/11. Wish the best for the survivers from one of the worst natural disasters in mankind.

Hoping disaster refugees' pain and suffering would be alleviated timely by attentions given and assistance provided by both public and private sectors.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I repeat what I have said in previous comments I have posted until someone can tell me "What happened to the all the money donated from around the world to Red Cross, NHK, etc."

I recently saw a Red Cross brand new Toyota Prius on the highway and buying a brand new car after not even acknowleding how the donation money was spent gave me serious doubts about this and many other "charitable" organizations.

I dare Red Cross to go public on how the money was distributed.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

My thoughts are with the victims and families affected that terrible day. It is most certainly a day I will never forget for as long as I live.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

3 years already. my hearts go out to all who suffered and are still suffering.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering :(

3 ( +3 / -0 )

mitokomonalex: Today isn't really the day to go on about your pet peeve. But, if you must ask about where the money went,... watch some TV today. You'll see interviews of people in temporary housing. Look at their furniture. See the bedding. The pots and pans. The refrigerator. See the washing machines. All that came from somewhere.

Please can we allow today to be about remembrance and sympathy?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Though the party in power has all but forgotten these people, we can make a different on a grass roots level.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I will never forget that day, or those people xx

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yeah, three years today and very little has changed for most of the tsunami refugees. They are still scattered all over the country and receiving very little financial or emotional help the tsunami was a tragedy, but the lack of help from the government is the real catastrophe.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I also want to know where all that money went! It's all very well raising taxes but where is it all going?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The Red Cross are out in force today collecting money for the Tohoku refugees. Personally, I think they should be picketing the parliament to get them to release some of the accumulated funds for the disaster and protesting them using it to support the whaling.

1 ( +4 / -3 )


I think bell tolls would have been a better choice in my opinion.

I understand what you mean. It took me a long time to get used to the air raid siren being sounded in a town I worked in to indicate the start of lunchtime.

However, by and large, the majority of Japanese communities do not have bells installed in their neighborhoods. Bells that toll in the West, for example, are usually those found in churches. Japan isn't a Christian country, therefore, no bells.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@LFRAgain, Ah, I see what you mean. Makes sense.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In times of great disaster come both the best and the worst aspects of humanity. For all those many who gave of themselves to help people who lost loved ones, homes, jobs, hopes, memories: you are the real people in this world, the best of the best. And for those who use this tragedy to profit yourself, who squander the miseries and good intentions of others for your own gain: shame on you even though you will never feel it.

. . . . . .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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