Moment of Silence, Sadness Marks Third Anniversary of Tsunami
March 11, 2014
Most people in Japan stopped for a moment of silence on the third anniversary of the twin disasters in 2011. The 9.0 Sendai Earthquake and consequent tsunami triggered a wave of destruction that is still being felt.
In Fukushima, one of the hardest-hit areas, 2,000 lit candles were arranged to read "Fukishima 3/11." The Fukushim Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant went into meltdown after the tsunami breached the plant's defenses, resulting in the spreading of radiation into the surrounding land and water and the death of nearly 16,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others.
Most of the displaced have still not returned home, largely because construction of the promised replacement housing has lagged far behind targets. A further 2,000 people are still listed as missing. Many who left the area have taken up permanent residence elsewhere, with friends or family.
Emperor Akihito offered prayers for the dead and the survivors. His pleas for continued peace were echoed throughout the country.
The anniversary provided a further spark for the anti-nuclear movement, as tens of thousands of people attended a rally against nuclear power in Tokyo. All of the country's dozens of nuclear plants were switched off after the meltdown and remained off for awhile. The electricity needs of the Japan are so great, however, that the government has switched a few back on.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced a slow return to nuclear power, with a few of the plants around the country being switched back on.
A drive to move toward renewable energy that many Japanese thought promising has resulted in very little production, leaving the country with a tremendous electric need to fill.