Japan Commemorates 7th Anniversary of Tsunami That Left 18,000 People Dead

By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States (CJCS meets with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) via Wikimedia Commons

The Japanese bowed their heads, hands clasped or palms pressed together firmly. They all stood in roadsides or grassy areas that are overlooking the choppy sea. In the capital of Japan, they offered flowers and lit candles. Some people even dabbed at tears.

On Sunday, the Japanese commemorated the seventh anniversary of the tsunami that occurred on the northeast coast that took more than 18,000 lives and triggered a nuclear disaster that turned some nearby communities into ghost towns.

The residents that are living along the coast gathered outdoors in order to remember the tragedy as numerous sirens wailed at approximately 2:46 p.m., the moment that the magnitude 9.0 offshore earthquake hit on the 11th of March, 2011, setting off a huge tsunami.

The tsunami overwhelmed the sea walls and washed away various cars, buildings, and the entire neighbourhoods as the waves swept inland. It knocked out the power at the seaside Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, causing some partial meltdowns in three reactors.

During an official ceremony in Tokyo on Sunday, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, said that the reconstruction is making steady progress. However, more than 70,000 people are still currently displaced, and many people have no likelihood of returning to their homes.

The second son of Japanese Emperor Akihito, Prince Akishino, expressed his hope that the tsunami would increase awareness and help mitigate or prevent damage from natural disasters that may happen in the future.

He stated: “It is my earnest hope … that we hand down the knowledge to future generations in order to protect many people from the dangers of disasters.”

Separately, hundreds of people observed a moment of silence and made some offerings at an altar that was set up in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo.

Cleaning up the still-radioactive nuclear plant site in Fukushima remains to be a daunting challenge that is anticipated to take around 30 to 40 years.