Japan Marks 2 Years Since Quake, Tsunami

300K still displaced as recovery continues
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2013 3:17 AM CDT
Updated Mar 11, 2013 3:37 AM CDT
Japan Marks 2 Years Since Quake, Tsunami
Police officers search for the remains of those who went missing in the March 11, 2011 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan.   (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Japan fell silent today to mark the second anniversary of the country's worst natural disaster in living memory, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that left 19,000 people dead or missing and devastated large areas along its northeast coast. "I pray that the peaceful lives of those affected can resume as soon as possible," Emperor Akihito said at a memorial service in Tokyo. But two years after the disaster, more than 300,000 people remain displaced and the cleanup and reconstruction process is ongoing, the AP reports.

Around half of those still displaced are evacuees from around the Fukushima nuclear plant, where meltdowns occurred at three reactors after tsunami waters knocked out cooling systems. The country's 50 nuclear reactors were shut down after the disaster and only two have reopened since, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is continuing his push to restart them after safety checks, the BBC reports. At Fukushima, thousands of workers are still decontaminating and decommissioning the plant, a process expected to take up to 40 years. (Read more Japan stories.)

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