Japan mourns its 2011 tsunami victims

Japan yesterday silently mourned the thousands who lost their lives in a massive earthquake and tsunami five years ago that turned towns to matchwood and triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986
Japan mourns its 2011 tsunami victims
Survivors of the tsunami lay flowers in memory of the lost ones five years ago


Flags flew at half mast in many government buildings, and some were draped in black, in a sign of mourning. The nine-magnitude quake struck offshore on a chilly day, sparking huge black waves along a vast swathe of coastline and killing nearly 20,000 people. 
The tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where meltdowns in three reactors spewed radiation over a wide area of the countryside, contaminating water, food and air. 
Naoto Kan, the prime minister at the time, has said he feared he would have to evacuate the Japanese capital Tokyo and that Japan’s very existence could have been in peril.  
Coastal Rikuzentakata, which was flattened by a wave as much as 17 metres high, lost seven percent of its population along with its entire downtown. “The reality is that we still feel the scars here, and there are still many struggling to restart their lives,” said 65-year-old Yashichi Yanashita, a retired city hall official. 
More than 160,000 people were evacuated from nearby towns and some 10 percent still live in temporary housing across Fukushima prefecture. Most have settled outside their hometowns and have begun new lives.

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