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Friday, 11th March 2016
In General Japan News,

Japan marks 5 years since tsunami

Events are being held in Japan to mark the fifth anniversary of an earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country.

The magnitude 9 earthquake struck on March 11th 2011, leaving 18,000 dead or missing, and was the strongest such natural disaster ever recorded.

Among those attending a memorial in Tokyo today are the prime minister Shinzo Abe and Emperor Akihito, the 125th emperor of Japan.

A moment of silence was observed by the entire country at the exact moment the quake hit, in order to remember all of those who died.

Heads were bowed at 14.46 local time, bells rang out and the underground metro system in Tokyo stopped its operations to allow everyone to show their respects.

The occasion was also used as an opportunity to formally acknowledge the fact that many people are still affected by what happened.

Emperor Akihito addressed the crowd at the ceremony, saying: "Many of the people affected by the disaster are aging, and I worry that some of them may be suffering alone in places where our eyes and attention don't reach." 

Once the quake had begun, a huge tsunami was set in motion, destroying much of the infrastructure on Japan’s north-east coast.

Another consequence of the seismic activity was water flooding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, taking its cooling systems offline.

The resulting meltdowns would lead to the worst nuclear disaster the world had seen since Chernobyl and 160,000 people being evacuated.

Over the past five years there has been a monumental effort to decontaminate the area, but the majority of those who left their homes have not yet been able to return.

As the Japanese government’s set timeframe for intensive reconstruction comes to an end this month, there are still many outstanding issues.

These include almost 800,000 tons of water that was tainted at Fukushima and is being kept inside 1,000 tanks at the plant.

Firm plans to decide how to dispose of it have not yet been put in place.