World Holds Vigils for Victims of Japan’s Deadly Earthquake, Tsunami

Posted March 11th, 2012 at 8:55 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Tens of thousands of anti-nuclear protesters gathered in cities around the world Sunday to mark the first anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami that left more than 22,000 people dead or missing, and led to one of the worst nuclear crises in history.

Japan collectively paused at 2:46 pm Sunday — the exact moment the magnitude-9 quake struck off Japan's northeastern coast on March 11, 2011, and unleashed a tsunami that devastated the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, causing three reactors to melt down.

Ceremonies and private observances were held around the disaster zone on the northeast coast and on a national stage in Tokyo. The event, attended by Japan's emperor and empress, was broadcast nationally.

Around 50 anti-nuclear protesters gathered Sunday in front of the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the crippled power plant at Fukushima. They chanted slogans demanding all nuclear plants be shut down and the nation's largest utility be broken up.

People in France formed a human chain stretching for more than 200 kilometers as part of an anti-nuclear demonstration.

Thousands of Germans attended vigils and protest marches to remember the victims of Japan's disaster and to demand an end to the use of atomic energy.

In Australia, hundreds of anti-nuclear protesters rallied across the country and held a moment of silence. A march in Sydney took place near the Australian headquarters of two global mining giants, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. The rallies also were part of a national day of action to end uranium mining in Australia.

Similar protests were held in Britain, Switzerland and Belgium.

Much of Japan's worst-hit areas are now clear of debris, but the extent of the damage is such that it may take many years before some regions can start rebuilding.

Many people are still living in temporary shelters and are still unemployed as they struggle to put their lives back together. Some tracts of land will be uninhabitable for decades to come because of radiation levels.