Four years to the day since Fukushima, a minute of silence has been observed across Japan to remember the more than 18,000 people dead or missing in an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that have marked the country’s history forever.
Tributes in Tokyo were led by Japan’s Emperor Akihito.
“Circumstances for survivors remain harsh,” he told a solemn ceremony in the capital, attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and representatives of regions affected by the disaster.
“It is important that all the people of this nation unite our hearts into one, and stand by them.”
Four years on, however, some 230,000 people are still without permanent housing as a result of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The devastating March 11 earthquake set off a massive tsunami that ravaged the Pacific coastline and caused explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
On Tuesday, Abe vowed to draw up a new-five year reconstruction plan. Since the 9.0 magnitude quake, Japan has allocated more than 14 billion euros to an unprecedented project to lower radiation in towns near the plant.
“The current intensive five-year reconstruction plan expires next March, but we will draw up another for the next five years by this summer,” Abe said.
Much remains to be done, with decontamination work taking longer than expected.