A ceremony of remembrance has been held in Tokyo for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11th, 2011.
About 1,200 people attended the government-sponsored event on Friday, the 5th anniversary of the disaster that also triggered the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima.
Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined others in observing a moment of silence at 2:46 PM, the exact time the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck.
Abe said in his speech that reconstruction of the disaster-hit regions is making steady progress. He said his government is determined to never allow the valuable lessons learned from the disaster to erode.
Abe pledged that the government will exert its unified efforts to build a strong and resilient nation that is resistant to disasters.
The Emperor said many people continue to live in difficult conditions to this day, both in the afflicted regions and in the places where they have evacuated to.
He said it is important that everyone’s hearts continue to be with the afflicted, so that each person in difficulty — without exception — will be able to get back to their normal lives as soon as possible.
Representatives of victims’ relatives from the hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima also spoke.
Kuniyuki Sakuma from Fukushima referred to the nuclear accident that forced many people from their homes.
He said his father passed away in a snowy, cold region far from his hometown after spending a long time as a refugee.
Sakuma said it is vital that the disaster never be forgotten. He called on families to continue passing on their experiences to future generations and across the world.
Source and image: NHK