Japan mourns tsunami victims

Japan is marking marks the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck the north-eastern coast, killing thousands and triggering a serious nuclear accident.

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Japan tsunami - some facts

The earthquake in Japan last year was so powerful it triggered 10 feet waves that reached the US west coast. Some fascinating scientific facts about what made it so big can be found on the ScientificAmerican website.

Here are some highlights:

  • Speed at which the Pacific Plate is smashing into the Japanese island arc: 8.9 centimeters per year
  • Speed at which the San Andreas Fault in California is slipping: about 4 centimeters per year
  • Duration of strong shaking reported from Japan: three to five minutes
  • Normal seasonal variation in a day's length: 1,000 microseconds
  • Range of depths at which earthquakes occur in Earth's crust: 0 – 700 kilometers
  • Top speed of a tsunami over the open ocean: About 800 kilometers per hour

Candlelit vigil in Japan

Hundreds of residents in the city of Fukushima light candles at a memorial ceremony ahead of the first anniversary of Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami.

They wrote their wishes and hopes on cups before putting candles into them and then spelling out 'Pray 3.11' in giant characters.

The fire for the candles was brought in a manner similar to the Olympic flame, carried on the back of monks for almost 370 miles from Kobe, which itself was devastated by the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

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Japan earthquake and tsunami anniversary

A tsunami swept cars, ships, and buildings away, crushing coastal communities. Credit: Reuters

Memorial services and a minute's silence have been planned in Japan to mark the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which killed thousands.

The magnitude 9.0 quake, the most powerful since records began, triggered a serious nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The main memorial ceremony, at Tokyo's National Theatre, will be attended by Japan's Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Fukushima couple at protest on first anniversary

A young couple who fled their home following the Fukushima disaster have addressed hundreds of protesters demonstrating on the eve of the first anniversary of the accident against the use of nuclear power.

Makoto Ishiyama and his wife Akiko Ishiyama joined demonstrators at the main entrance of Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset to describe what it was like to live through the disaster.

Cameron's 'respect' for Japan's recovery

A factory burns following an earthquake and tsunami in Sendai in March 2011 Credit: Reuters

David Cameron has spoken of his "admiration and respect" for the way Japan has recovered from last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami on the anniversary of the disaster:

"In the face of such tragedy, the Japanese people showed tremendous resilience as they came to terms with losing thousands of their countrymen, and witnessing entire communities being wiped out. Twelve months on and the Japanese people continue to sustain that courage and determination...

I greatly admire and respect the way they have overcome the enormous challenges of recovery. We stood by Japan in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and we will continue to stand by the Japanese people and Government as they continue to reconstruct the Tohoku region."

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Signs of devastation still seen on anniversary of Japan earthquake

Cars destroyed by the March 11 tsunami are left abandoned as the 330 ton fishing vessel which was flung 800 metres Credit: AP Photo/Koji Sasahara
Cars pass by the 330 ton fishing vessel which was flung 800 metres inland from Kesennuma port by earthquake Credit: AP Photo/Koji Sasahara
Visitors look at a fallen building in the neighborhood destroyed by the tsunami Credit: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

Clear-up at Fukushima may take 'decades'

An aerial view showing damage sustained at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex Credit: REUTERS/Tokyo Electric Power

The clear-up of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will take decades, experts warned ahead of the first anniversary of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was rocked by explosions after systems failed in the face of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami.

Tony Irwin, who worked for British Energy in the UK for more than 30 years and now is visiting lecturer at the Australian National University, said there were still more than 100,000 people evacuated from the area and that many may not be able to return until 2014.

Mr Irwin said the removal of fuel debris from the reactor core could take place within a decade, with decommissioning complete within 30 to 40 years.

Disaster-hit Japan is 'open for business'

A truck and destroyed buildings swept by a tsunami following Japan's earthquake last year Credit: REUTERS/Kyodo

Hiroshi Suzuki, director of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre at the Japanese Embassy in London has conveyed that Japan's recovery from last year's tsunami is "right on track" and that "a lot of progress has been made".

The 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami devastated Japan's north-eastern coast, killing thousands of people and triggering a crisis at a nuclear power plant. However, Minister Suzuki has said that the country is back on its feet and open for business.

The anniversary of the disaster this Sunday will be marked by a remembrance ceremony in Tokyo, and Japanese embassies across the globe.

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