Japan paused at 2:46 p.m. local time to mark the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country in 2011.
More than 18,000 people died or went messing after a 9.0-magnitude quake off the northeastern coast of Japan, one of the largest in recorded history, triggered waves as high as 130 feet. The disaster also triggered a historic series of meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami
More than 180,000 people are still displaced from the Fukushima region and the coast, including many who refuse to move back. Last month, we noted that Japan’s population has shrunk by nearly a million people over the past five years, impelled in large part by a low birthrate and a stringent immigration policy. Most notably, however, the Fukushima region posted a net loss of 115,000 people in the census figures.
Appropriately, Friday’s major memorial ceremony in Tokyo struck a somber note and also emphasized that the grief and trauma of the disaster are still deeply entrenched.
“Many of the people affected by the disaster are aging, and I worry that some of them may be suffering alone in places where our eyes and attention don’t reach,” said Emperor Akihito at a ceremony with survivors and Japanese officials.