With a moment of silence, prayers and anti-nuclear protests, Japan on March 11 mourned the more than 18,000 victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck 10 years ago.
Huge waves triggered by the magnitude 9.0 quake — one of the strongest on record — crashed into the northeastern coast on March 11, 2011, crippling the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee as radiation spewed into the air.
At 2:46 p.m., exactly 10 years after the quake, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako led a moment of silence to honor the 15,900 dead and 2,525 missing in a commemorative ceremony in Tokyo.
Naruhito said “my heart aches” when he thinks of those who have struggled to adapt to drastic changes to their lives because of the triple disaster, including the loss of loved ones, jobs and whole communities. He stressed that it’s important for people to stand by those afflicted and help reconstruct their lives “without leaving even a single soul behind in this difficult situation.”
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told the memorial ceremony that the loss of life was still impossible to contemplate.
“It is unbearable when I think of the feelings of all those who lost their loved ones and friends,” he said.
The ceremony attendees wore masks and kept their distance to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Reuters, AP)