Japan Honors Victims Of Its Worst Earthquake 5 Years On

Five years ago, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck Tohoku, a region along Japan’s northeastern coast. The March 11, 2011, disaster unleashed a massive tsunami, which produced waves up to 133 feet high locally and sent water surging as far away as the U.S. west coast.

The earthquake and tsunami left some 18,500 people dead or missing, according to Japan’s national police agency. Experts say the Tohoku earthquake was the strongest ever measured in the earthquake-prone country.

The earthquake and tsunami also triggered the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power station over the following few days. Radioactive material was released into the surrounding atmosphere and sea, and over 160,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes.

Shortly after the disaster, the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company vowed to rebuild and restore the affected regions. The government has since been criticized for its inadequate nuclear decontamination efforts, and three former power company executives were charged last month with failing to take measures to prevent the nuclear disaster.

On Friday, people across Japan paid tribute to the victims of the Tohoku earthquake, from a moment of silence at a Shizuoka baseball stadium to candles arranged to form the 3/11 date.

Take a look at how Japan remembered the disaster in the photos below.

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