Three weeks after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the search for the bodies of more that 16 000 missing people has been intensified, with thousands of Japanese and American soldiers deployed in coastal areas.
The air, sea and land operation is concentrating on areas of coastline that were largely submerged or remain underwater. Some places are still inaccessible.
The United States has sent a 140 member task force to help co-ordinate the search, which is taking place amidst rising radiation levels from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in the north of the country.
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The Japanese Prime Minister and several cabinet members are due to visit the affected area on Saturday.
Radioactive iodine levels in seawater around the damaged nuclear plant have reached new record levels of 4,385 times the normal limit.
An estimated 1000 bodies have been left untouched because of radiation fears.
The disaster has so far claimed more than 11 000 lives.