Ten years after Fukushima disaster Japan pays tribute to the victims

Photo: AP People offer a silent prayer for the victims on the site of former town office in Otsuchi, Japan, 11 March 2021.

Japan is paying tribute on 11 March to the victims of the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami in the north-east of the country, which also triggered the world's worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.

On Thursday, memorial services are to be held across Japan as the country marks the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are scheduled to attend a scaled-down ceremony in Tokyo amid the Covid-19 pandemic, dpa reported.

The magnitude-9 quake followed by a tsunami struck north-eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, claiming the lives of about 18,400 people.

As consequences of the natural catastrophe, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station suffered meltdowns at three of its reactors after the tsunami swept through the facilities.

The number of people who died due to the prolonged evacuation stood at 3,767, including 2,313 in Fukushima prefecture, according to the Reconstruction Agency.

Ten years after the disaster, about 36,000 evacuees from Fukushima remain scattered across Japan and are still unable to return to their homes in areas surrounding the damaged nuclear power station, 230 kilometres north-east of Tokyo, according to the Reconstruction Agency.

Critics say the actual number of evacuees is much larger, arguing the central and local governments have failed to look into the living conditions of those who were forced to leave their homes near the plant. The government lifted evacuation orders in many of the towns surrounding the plant, as it completed decontamination work, which critics say was ineffective.

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