Japan marked two years since the Tōhoku earthquake on Monday, the 9.0 magnitude quake that triggered a deadly tsunami and caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster, killing nearly 19,000 people and displacing at least 300,000 more.

Memorial services have taken place around the country, as Japanese communities mourned the tragedy and contemplated the continuing reconstruction of sites that still bear little resemblance to the place they used to call home.

tsunami anniversary

Photos show a boat on top of a two-storey home in Iwate prefecture on 16 April 2011; the same area on 16 January 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on 18 February 2013

The country is still scarred by the catastrophe, with thousands still living in temporary housing and the government struggling to replace nuclear power with another energy source, amid widespread anger at what one blogger labelled a "disastrous experiment" with the system.


Kristalina Georgieva
Today 2 yrs after & ! Water, silence, cries, loss, grief, We look for answers Tragedy makes us stonger

tsunami

Memorial services are taking place around Japan


As tsunami waves over 40m high swept across the north east of the country on March 11 2011, three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant shut down.

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19,000 people were killed

Three large explosions and radioactive leakage created a situation which Europe's Energy Commissioner described afterwards as an "apocalypse."

tsunami

Japan is struggling to find alternative sources of energy as anti-nuclear feeling grows


Radiation continues to affect the surrounding areas with physician Helen Caldicott writing in the Sydney Morning Herald that "disturbing medium and long-term effects on humans, animals and plants" continue to be observed, with residents contracting cancer and mutations seen in animals. She says the fall-out will never be contained and "will contaminate food, humans and animals forever."

tsunami debris

Pictures of the fallout from the nuclear disaster


Those poisoned by Fukushima also face discrimination, with women spurned amid fears they will have a "contaminated" child . Japanese media have also reported on the case on one evacuated family who were forced to move after taunts they might "infect" local children. Cars and trucks with Fukushima plates have reportedly been turned away from petrol stations and depots.

While the human cost of the disaster was devastating, the financial cost also continues to punish Japan, with the World Bank estimating the tragedy cost the country US$235 billion, the most expensive natural disaster in history.

tsunami debris

Beaches are still littered with flotsam


The government is under pressure to improve conditions for those affected by the disaster. Some 800 people are now suing the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co until the area is restored, demanding $520 a month, reported AFP.

"This case is not only aimed at saving victims, but also at pushing the government to thoroughly change its pro-nuclear policy and therefore prevent people becoming victims in the future," a statement from their lawyers read. Communities reliant on fishing and tourism have had all industry destroyed in the disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a memorial service in Tokyo: "We must speed up the reconstruction effort for the survivors who are living with heart and soul. I believe that would be a way to serve justice for the perished," reported AP.

However Hiroshi Suzuki, chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Reconstruction Committee said: "There have been no major changes by the new government in response to the nuclear accident, though the budget has been increased."

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  • This combination photo taken on April 26, 2011 and distributed by Defense Ministry, left, and taken on Sunday, March 3, 2013 by Kyodo News, shows reactor buildings, from foreground, Unit 1 to 4, in the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. Japan next week observes two years from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami which devastated the northeastern Pacific coast of the country. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

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    This combination photo shows an aerial view of Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture on April 10, 2011, left, and Monday, March 4, 2013. A sightseeing boat sitting atop a building by the March 11, 2011 tsunami was demolished and taken away while a shipyard which was totally destroyed by the tsunami has resumed its operation. Japan next week observes two years from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami which devastated the northeastern Pacific coast of the country. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • This combination photo shows a view of Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture on March 19, 2011, top, and Friday, March 1, 2013. Japan next week observes two years from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami which devastated the northeastern Pacific coast of the country. Japan's progress in rebuilding from the mountain of water that thundered over coastal sea walls, sweeping entire communities away and killing nearly 19,000 people, is mainly measured in barren foundations and empty spaces. Clearing of forests on higher ground to make space for relocation of survivors has barely begun. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

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    This combination photo taken March 11, 2011, top, and Monday, March 4, 2013 shows an aerial view of Sendai Airport in Natori, Miyagi prefecture. The airport has resumed its operation only about one month after the tsunami and functioned as the major base of the rescue operation. Japan next week observes two years from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami which devastated the northeastern Pacific coast of the country. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

  • This combination photo taken March 17, 2011, top, and Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, shows the luggage claim area at Sendai Airport in Natori, Miyagi prefecture. Japan next week observes two years from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami which devastated the northeastern Pacific coast of the country. The airport has resumed its operation only about one month after the tsunami and functioned as the major base of the rescue operation. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

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    CORRECTS DATE - This combination photo shows an aerial view of Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture on March 12, 2011, top, and Monday, March 4, 2013. Seen at left is the No. 18 Kyotokumaru fishing vessel that has been swept away from a port by the March 11, 2011 tsunami. Japan's progress in rebuilding from the mountain of water that thundered over coastal sea walls, sweeping entire communities away and killing nearly 19,000 people, is mainly measured in barren foundations and empty spaces. Clearing of forests on higher ground to make space for relocation of survivors has barely begun. Japan next week observes two years from the disasters which devastated the northeastern Pacific coast of the country. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

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    This combination of pictures shows a catamaran sightseeing boat washed by the tsunami onto a two-storey tourist home in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture on April 16, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 16, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 18, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA,YASUYOSHI CHIBA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows the view of a tsunami hit area of Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on March 14, 2011 (L) and on January 15, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 18, 2013 (R). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (L and R) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA,TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a catamaran sightseeing boat washed by the tsunami onto a two-storey tourist home in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture on April 16, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 16, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 18, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA,YASUYOSHI CHIBA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a ship called Asia Sympathy run aground by the March 11 tsunami in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, on March 18, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 16, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 18, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a fishing boat washed up by the March 11, 2011 tsunami onto on a road in the city of Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture on March 16, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 14, 2012 (bottom) and then nearly two years later on February 19, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / KIM JAE-HWAN (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) This picture taken on February 19, 2013 shows the same area where AFP photographer Kim Jae-Hwan took a photo on March 16, 2011 showing a fishing boat washed up by the March 11, 2011 tsunami onto a road in the city of Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read KIM JAE-HWAN,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a tsunami hit area of Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on March 29, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 15, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 19, 2013. March 11, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming more than 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (top and bottom) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows the view of a tsunami hit street in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on March 14, 2011 (top) and the same scene as it appears on January 15, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years alter on February 19, 2013 (bottom), where now lies a warehouse as a large ship docks at the port. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS KAMM (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows the view of a tsunami hit street in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on March 14, 2011 (top) and the same scene as it appeard on January 15, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 19, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (top and bottom) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA,TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a survivor walking past rubble and collapsed buildings in Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture on March 18, 2011 (top) following the March 11, 2011 tsunami and the same area on January 14, 2012 (C) and nearly two years later on February 19, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a 10-metre high pine tree in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on March 29, 2011 (top) and the scene as it appears on January 15, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 19, 2013 (bottom). It is the only tree to have survived the tsunami among some 70,000 trees located by the seashore to protect from salt, sand and wind damage, and a memorial of the dead pine tree is currently under construction.. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (top and bottom) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA,TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • JAPAN-DISASTER-ANNIVERSARY-MEDIA-COMBO

    This combination of pictures shows a 10-metre high pine tree in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on March 29, 2011 (top) and the same scene as it appears on January 15, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 19, 2013 (bottom). It is the only tree to have survived the tsunami among some 70,000 trees located by the seashore to protect from salt, sand and wind damage, but later died. The crane (R) is working on the memorial to the tree. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (top and bottom) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA,TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows people evacuating with small boats down a road flooded by the tsunami in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture on March 12, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 13, 2012 (C) and nearly two years later on February 22, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows people walking on a bridge upon which a boat lies washed up by the tsunami in Hishonomaki, Miyagi prefecture on March 15, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 13, 2012 (bottom) and then nearly two years later on February 22, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a boat washed on to a street by the March 11 tsunami in Ishonomaki, Miyagi prefecture on March 15, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 13, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 22, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming more than 19,000 lives. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows damage caused by the March 11, 2011 tsunami seen from a hill overlooking the city of Kesennuma on March 16, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 14, 2012 (C) and February 20, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows debris and damage in the tsunami hit area of Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture on March 18, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 14, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 20, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA,FRED DUFOUR,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combo shows pictures of a rescue worker walking through rubble in the tsunami hit area of Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture on March 18, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 14, 2012 (C) and on February 20, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows damage caused by the March 11, 2011 tsunami seen from a hill overlooking the city of Kesennuma on March 16, 2011 (top) and the same area on Janury 14, 2012 (C) and on February 20, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows local residents walking past damaged cars on a street in a tsunami hit area of Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 12, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / KIM JAE-HWAN (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read KIM JAE-HWAN,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combo shows (top) people walking on train tracks littered with cars in Tagajo near Sendai, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 (top), following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and a train coming (C) along a railway track at the same place nearly one year later on January 12, 2012, and again nearly two years later (bottom) on February 21, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (top and centre images) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows debris covering a large tsunami hit area of Natori, near Sendai in Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 12, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This picture taken on February 20, 2013 shows the same area where a Jiji Press shooter took a photo on March 13, 2011 of a vehicle sitting on a three-storey building in the tsunami hit area of Minamisanriku, in Miyagi prefecture. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows residents walking on roads covered with mud and debris in a tsunami hit area of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 14, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 13, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (top and C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows local residents looking at a tsunami hit area of Natori, Miyagi prefecture, near Sendai, on March 14, 2011 (L) and the same area on January 12, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (L and C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (R) (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows local residents walking in a flooded street in a tsunami hit area of Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 (top) and the same area on January 12, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013 (bottom). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows people queueing up to buy food at a supermarket in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture on March 14, 2011 (top) after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the same area on January 13, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. JAPAN OUT AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows people walking on a road covered with vehicles and debris in a tsunami hit area of Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 (L) and the same area on January 12, 2012 (C) and nearly two years later on February 21, 2013 (R). March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (L) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (R) (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows a private plane, cars and debris outside Sendai Airport in Natori, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011 (top) two days after a tsunami hit the region on March 11, 2011 and the same area on January 12, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / MIKE CLARKE (top) AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (bottom) (Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

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    This combination of pictures shows cars piled up in front of the airport control tower of Sendai Airport in Natori on March 14, 2011 (L) after an earthquake and tsunami hit the region on March 11, 2011 and the same area on January 12, 2012 (C) and then nearly two years later on February 21, 2013. March 11, 2013 will mark the second anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming some 19,000 lives. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (L) AFP PHOTO / Toru Yamanaka (C) AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (R) (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ,TORU YAMANAKA,TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)