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Japan Earthquake: One Year Later

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This Sunday, March 11, will mark the one-year anniversary of the horrific earthquake that struck northeastern Japan, spawning an incredibly destructive tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In the year that has passed, much has changed. Mountains of rubble have been cleared, but not fully disposed of yet. Nuclear power has fallen out of favor, and confidence in the government has been shaken. Japan mourns the confirmed deaths of more than 15,850 people, and still lists 3,287 as missing 12 months later. Questions remain about rebuilding villages, cleaning up the nuclear exclusion zone, and deciding the future of nuclear power in Japan. Collected here are recent images of those affected by the disaster, coping and moving on one year later. [Photos 25-29 are interactive before/after photos, be sure to click to see the transition. See also Japan Earthquake: Before and After, featuring more interactive photos.] [45 photos]

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Yuko Sugimoto holds a picture of herself standing in the same place she stood in March 13, 2011, after the area was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture in northern Japan, on February 22, 2012. Sugimoto was photographed last year, wrapped in a blanket in front of a pile of debris as she looked for her son Raito who was missing (who she later found). Her picture became an iconic image of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Japan a year ago. (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao)
Yuko Sugimoto holds a picture of herself standing in the same place she stood in March 13, 2011, after the area was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture in northern Japan, on February 22, 2012. Sugimoto was photographed last year, wrapped in a blanket in front of a pile of debris as she looked for her son Raito who was missing (who she later found). Her picture became an iconic image of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Japan a year ago. (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao)
Chairs are strewn in a classroom of the Kadonowaki Elementary School on March 2, 2012 in Ishinomaki, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
Pine trees, uprooted during last year's tsunami, lay strewn over the beach in Rikuzentakata, Japan, on March 07, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
Cars destroyed by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at a devastated area in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, on March 9, 2012, ahead of one-year anniversary of last March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
A Buddhist monk bows and offers a prayer in a neighborhood destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 9, 2012, two days before the one-year anniversary of the disaster. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi) #
Manami Watanabe, 11, walks along a rail track which is no longer used since last year's tsunami in Minamisanriku town, in Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan, on February 24, 2012. Watanabe's father, a seaweed farmer, was one of the lucky 5.8 percent from his hometown whose boat survived the March 11, 2011 tsunami, however what he lost was much greater. Tsunami waves swept away his wife, mother and his house that was built on land handed down to him through 13 generations. (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao) #
Students sit during their recreational activities session at Omika Elementary School, located about 21 km (13 miles) from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, on March 8, 2012. The reopened elementary school, which is the nearest one located to the crippled nuclear power plant, had 205 students before the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. However, only 91 students remain following its reopening on October 17, 2011. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
A student wears a radiation monitor on his shirt at Omika Elementary School, near the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, on March 8, 2012. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
Schoolchildren wear padded hoods to protect them from falling debris during a disaster drill named "Shakeout Tokyo" at Izumi elementary school in Tokyo, on March 9, 2012. Tokyo's Chiyoda ward residents, commuters, office workers and school children held a mass disaster drill on Friday in preparation for the next big earthquake. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A child takes cover underneath his desk during a disaster drill named "Shakeout Tokyo" at Izumi elementary school in Tokyo, on March 9, 2012. (Reuters/Issei Kato) #
A man looks for his photographs at a collection center for items which were found in the rubble of an area devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, on March 9, 2012. More than 250,000 photographs and personal belongings are displayed at the center for owners to recover. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
Debris and non-recyclable home items lay strewn over the ground where houses and factories once stood on March 08, 2012 in Kesennuma, Japan. The fishing industry in North Eastern Japan's Tohoku area has suffered greatly after last year's tsunami. Numerous fishing towns had their equipment, factories, boats and livelihoods washed away. As a result large numbers of fisherman have turned to alternative industries, including laboring to clean the mountains of rubble left behind the tsunami, but most fight the uphill battle of rebuilding from scratch. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
The Minamisanriku Disaster Emergency Center headquarters is seen out the window during a bus tour to learn about the effects of last year's March 11 earthquake and tsunami on March 05, 2012 in Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
A single pine tree that was left standing after the March 11 tsunami, which swept away an entire forest in the city of Rikuzentakata, is seen on March 07, 2012 in Rikuzentakata, Japan. People see the tree's miraculous survival as a symbol of hope and want to preserve it as a living monument. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
Tires, belonging to vehicles destroyed during last year's devastating tsunami, sit covered in snow in Minamisanriku, Japan, on March 05, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
A car washed onto the top of this building by last year's tsunami remains in place on March 08, 2012 in Minamisanriku, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
A stone statue of a mother holding a child, bundled up with knit scarves and a cap against the bitterly cold winter, stands near a special altar in front of the main gate of Okawa Elementary School where 74 of the 108 students went missing after the March 11 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on March 6, 2012. On Tuesday, one year after the disaster, 40 police officers conducted another search operation for the bodies of four students still yet to be recovered, in response to their families' request. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda) #
Yasuhiro Sagara, a member of a volunteer group from Tokyo, loses his boot in the thick mud as he works to clear buried drainage pipes on March 9, 2012 in Rikuzentakata, Japan. Volunteer groups have come from all across Japan to help in the massive recovery effort. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images) #
A man washes a door in a bathtub, in an attempt to remove radioactive contamination, at a private house in Hirono, outside Japan's nuclear exclusion zone, on February 20, 2012. A massive cleanup has begun in towns contaminated by radiation leaks from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, but experts say there is no successful example they can follow, and they don't know how to judge the effectiveness of a process that is expected to last for years or even decades. (AP Photo/Greg Baker) #
A police officer searches for bodies in an area damaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on March 9, 2012. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Takahiro Shito, 47, sits next to a Buddhist altar, dedicated to his daugher, Chisato, 11, who was killed during last year's tsunami tragedy at Okawa Elementary School on March 03, 2012, in Ishinomaki, Japan. Teachers at the school weren't trained for tsunami evacuation and didn't lead the children up the snow-covered mountain behind the school after the tsunami warning sounded. Out of 108 students at the school, 74 died and four remain missing; 10 of the school's 13 teachers were also killed. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
People pray as they attend a Buddhist memorial service at a makeshift shrine for the victims from Okawa Elementary School, killed in last years tsunami, on March 03, 2012 in Ishinomaki, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
Hiromi Sato holds her son, Haruse, as they pose in front of a destroyed Minamisanriku town hospital, where a boat still perches atop the 5-story building, in Minamisanriku, on March 3, 2012. Hiromi gave birth to her son at the Ishinomaki Red Cross hospital on March 11, 2011, the same day the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. In a fortunate twist of fate, her husband Kenji Sato, a wiry descendant of fishermen in his coastal hometown of Minamisanriku, took time off from work to see their third child, Haruse, born at the hospital in the nearby port city. A year on, the Satos, who all survived the tsunami are planning a quiet birthday with some cake and ice cream for the child who, his grandmother Kazuko insists, "was born to save us". (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao) #
Miura Osami, 49, a fisherman whose boat was destroyed in last year's tsunami and is now working as a volunteer in a temporary housing community center, recalls his life on the ocean on March 06, 2012 in Minamisanriku, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
This before/after pair of photos shows Japanese vehicles passing through the ruins of the leveled city of Minamisanriku, Japan, on March 15, 2011, four days after the tsunami, and (click image to view) vehicles pass through the same area on February 23, 2012. [click image to view transition] (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) #
In this before/after pair, two people walk along a street in a residential neighborhood in Onagawa, northeastern Japan, on March 19, 2011, eight days after the March 11 tsunami, and (click to view) two people walk on the same spot on February 22, 2012. [click image to view transition] (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) #
In this before/after pair, Tayo Kitamura, 40, kneels in the street to caress and talk to the wrapped body of her mother Kuniko Kitamura, 69, after Japanese firemen discovered the dead woman inside the ruins of her home in Onagawa, northeastern Japan, on March 19, 2011 -- and the same scene (click to view), a year later, on February 22, 2012. [click image to view transition] (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) #
A before/after pair of views of a tsunami-devastated area in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, first seen on March 12, 2011 and a year later (click to view), on March 3, 2012, [click image to view transition] (Reuters/Kyodo) #
In the 'before' image, a ship washed away by the tsunami sits in a destroyed residential neighborhood in Kesennuma, northeastern Japan, on March 28, 2011, and the same ship sits on the same spot (click to view) on February 23, 2012. [click image to view transition] (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) #
Tsunami-crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant No.4 (right) and No.3 reactor buildings are seen in Fukushima prefecture February 28, 2012. Members of the foreign media were allowed into the plant on Tuesday ahead of the first anniversary of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake which triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. (Reuters/Kimimasa Mayama/Pool) #
Local government officials inspect the bottom of the No. 4 reactor inside the containment vessel at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, on February 8, 2012. The Daini plant, located south of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was opened to the local media for the first time since the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (Reuters/Kyodo) #
Reina Endo, 7, is screened for radiation during a whole body radiation check at the Minamisoma City General Hospital, just outside the 20km evacuation zone surrounding the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, on March 09, 2012 in Minamisoma, Japan. Radiation is still being emitted from the shutdown nuclear Dai-ichi plant, though much slower than the following weeks after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. At the Minamisoma City General Hospital, over 20,000 people are registered on waiting lists to get their radiation levels measured with a newly acquired whole-body counter. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
A radiation gauge shows a reading of 6.40 microSieverts per hour during a temporary return visit by evacuees to Okuma town, inside of the 20km (12 miles) radius around the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, on February 12, 2012. While nearly a year has passed from Japan's massive 9.0 magnitude quake, for the residents of Okuma town in Fukushima, radiation fears have kept the crisis a real if not always visible and present danger. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon) #
On on March 08, 2012, Eiji Yamahira, a ship welder from Nagasaki, eats his lunch in his temporary accommodation, as he takes a break from working in the Kidoura shipyard to construct the first two fishing ships to be built since last year's tsunami destroyed ship building yards in Kesennuma, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
Tokio Ito welds during construction of the first two fishing ships to be built since last year's tsunami destroyed the Kidoura ship building yard, on March 08, 2012 in Kesennuma, Japan. The fishing industry in North Eastern Japan's Tohoku area has suffered greatly after last year's tsunami. Numerous fishing towns had their equipment, factories, boats and livelihoods washed away. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
Volunteers (yellow bibs) assist workers as they slice and pack mekabu (seaweed root) at a temporary processing yard, setup on the Minamisanriku harbor on March 8, 2012 in Minamisanriku, Japan. As the one year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami approaches, fisherman along the coastline are being assited by volunteers from across the country in an effort to boost the industry, create jobs and save livelihoods. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images) #
65 year old Kikuko Abe laughs while sitting with friends (unseen) as her grandchildren, 8 year old Iroha Kodama and 15 year old Naiki Kodama, play with handheld video games in a temporary community center in Ishinomaki, Japan, on March 2, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images) #
Carpenters build a house in a neighborhood destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, on March 9, 2012, two days before the one-year anniversary of the disaster. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi) #
Photographer Kenichi Funada takes a portrait of Katsuko Abe with her pet dog Kaede as part of the 3.11 Portrait Project at the Midorigaoka temporary shelter in Koriyama, on December 17, 2011. The 3.11 Portrait Project was conceived by photographer Nobuyuki Kobayashi who, with the help of hair and makeup artists and other volunteers, takes portraits of earthquake survivors in Tohoku, many of whom lost all of their family pictures in the March 11, 2011 disaster. The portraits are then sent to schoolchildren from non-disaster areas, who frame the portraits and send them back to the survivors along with personal messages of support. Picture taken December 17, 2011. (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao) #
Photographer Kenichi Funada (left) shows Tsugiko Miyajima her portrait on his iPad after taking part in the 3.11 Portrait Project at the Midorigaoka temporary shelter in Koriyama, on December 17, 2011. (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao) #
A stray cat lies on a road in front of the debris of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami on Tashirojima island, known as "Cats island", off Ishinomaki city, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, on March 9, 2012. The tsunami-hit isolated island, well known for more than 80 stray cats who local residents said survived the disaster, is on the way to recovery using the cats as tourist resources. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) #
A man walks past a damaged fish oil tank painted to resemble a can of whale meat in Ishinomaki, on March 9, 2012. (Reuters/Toru Hanai) #
A worker from a power company looks out over a tsunami-affected area as he takes a break from dismantling power lines damaged by last year's tsunami, on March 2, 2012 in the Yuriage area of Natori, Japan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #
Japanese living in Switzerland hold a ceremony to commemorate the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, in the Japanese embassy in Bern, on March 9, 2012. (Reuters/Michael Buholzer) #
Japanese evacuees from the towns inside the nuclear exclusion zone bow as Shinto priests hold a memorial ceremony in the abandoned and irradiated town of Namie in Japan's Fukushima prefecture, on Sunday February 19, 2012. The group of former residents returned to the area for the day to hold a ceremony at the site of the ancient Kusano shrine that was destroyed by the March 11, 2011 tsunami. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder) #

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