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Japan Tsunami Remembered Five Years On
   2016-03-11 16:04:38    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Huang Yue

People are reflected on a stone monument listing the names of victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Sendai, northeast Japan, on Friday morning, March 11, 2016. Japan on Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeast coastal areas on March 11, 2011. [Photo: vcg.com]

Japan is marking the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that left more than 18,000 dead or missing.

Even after all these years, questions remain about relocating survivors, and health risks related to the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear site.


The nation came to a standstill at 2:46 in the afternoon on Friday for a minute's silence, exactly five years after a magnitude-9 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan's eastern seaboard.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Emperor Akihito delivered condolences at a national ceremony in Tokyo.

The Emperor bowed deeply in front of the alter at the ceremony and expressed his condolences to the victims of the disaster.

"Every single person suffering hardship shouldn't be left out and I hope they can return to normal life without further delay. I think it is important for people in Japan to become united, single heartedly, in our effort to be there for them."

The quake, one of the most powerful on record in Japan, killed 16,000 people. Another 2,500 are still missing.

It triggered a tsunami. Combined with the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis, the worst commercial disaster in history, the quake and the destructive wall of water that hit the coast have left many people to this day still grappling with health, housing, and dire economic concerns.

Kazumi Takizawa, a counselor in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, is worried that less than 20 percent of the town's residents will return.

"People's lives have suffered enough after the disaster. Some of them may already have new jobs in their new locations."

It's been reported that more than 160 thousand people were evacuated from nearby towns, and 10 percent of those people still live in temporary housing across Fukushima prefecture.

Some areas remain no-go zones due to the high radiation.

Japanese activists and researchers have warned of side-effects of nuclear radiation on children's health, citing a dramatic rise in cancer rates in the last five years.

Despite widespread concern, the Japanese government and International Atomic Energy Agency say a feared spike in the occurrence of thyroid cancer in Fukushima is "unlikely."

However, findings and data of an independent research contradicted that claim.

Toshihide Tsuda, professor of environmental sciences at Okayama University, says his study shows a clear link between cancer rates and the nuclear disaster.

"The thyroid cancer occurrence rates among Fukushima residents who were up to 18 years of age in the year of the meltdown were 20 to 50 times higher than those in other parts of Japan. Even within Fukushima Prefecture the rates vary from place to place: the closer a location is to the Daiichi plant, the higher the cancer occurrence. This is the outcome of my analysis."

Tsuda stresses that such a notable difference in occurrence rates points to the side-effects of the nuclear disaster.

All of Japan's nuclear power plants were ordered offline amid safety concerns following the Fukushima disaster.

Only a few have since restarted. Earlier this week, two plants were ordered to shut down again because of safety concerns.

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