Two Years After the Deadly Tsunami, Japan Continues to Mourn and Rebuild

From daguerreotypes to digital.
March 11 2013 7:16 PM

Bringing Japan’s Ghost Towns Back to Life

Two years after a devastating disaster, can the Fukushima region remake itself?

Two years ago, a 9.03-magnitude earthquake and its ensuing tsunami devastated Japan and caused nuclear meltdowns at three reactors in the northeastern coastal city of Fukushima. The quake—according to records, the fourth largest since 1900—resulted in the death of 15,881 people, with 2,668 more missing and 6,142 injured, according to updated police estimates. Residents within a 12-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were evacuated, but the World Health Organization has said the area’s affected residents face a small, almost undetectable increased cancer risk as a result of radiation exposure. Look through the photos below to see how the desolate region is working to rebuild itself.
 

Police officers search for the remains of those who went missing in the March 11, 2011 tsunami.
Police officers search for the remains of those who went missing on March 11, 2011 in northern Japan. Today marks the two-year anniversary of Japan's devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe.

Photo by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Workers carry out radiation screening on a bus for a media tour at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
Workers carry out radiation screening on a bus for a media tour at Tokyo Electric Power Co. tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima on March 6, 2013

Photo by Issei Kato/AP

Police officers search for missing people of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
Police officers search for people missing from the tsunami and earthquake on March 10, 2013. With a minute of silence, tolling bells and prayers, Japan marked the two-year anniversary of an earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis that shattered public trust in atomic power and the nation's leaders

Photo by Kyodo/Reuters

A man passes in front of a destroyed former town government office.
A man passes in front of a destroyed former town government office where 33 civil servants are missing or dead on March 11, 2013 in Ootsuti, Iwate prefecture, Japan

Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Protesters hold banners and flags during an anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, Saturday, March 9, 2013.
Protesters hold banners and flags during an anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, Saturday, March 9, 2013

Photo by Junji Kurokawa/AP

The names of victims of the earthquake and tsunami are inscribed in a cenotaph.
The names of victims of the earthquake and tsunami are inscribed in a cenotaph in Okawa district in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan

Photo by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Japanese people pay their respects in front of the remaining structure of a former disaster center as they commemorate the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
Japanese people pay their respects in front of the remaining structure of a former disaster center as they commemorate the second anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami

Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images

Wrecked vehicles remain in a field of reeds in Namie, two years after the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
Wrecked vehicles remain in a field of reeds in Namie, two years after the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake, near the stricken TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture

Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

A woman who survived the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
A woman who survived the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami cleans inside at a domed greenhouse in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Feb. 22, 2013. Few businesses have rebuilt in the worst hit areas of the disaster zone, and uncertainty over prospects for reconstruction is deterring most from outside from even considering investments there. One of the few projects to start up here so far, Granpa Farms, is an agrotechnology company from Kanagawa, near Tokyo, that has built eight dome-shaped high-tech greenhouses for hydroponic farming of lettuce and other greens.

Photo by Junji Kurokawa/AP

A new fishing boat is anchored at a port behind a net to keep off trespassing as the damaged pier is under reconstruction after the March 11, 2011 tsunami.
A new fishing boat is anchored at a port behind a net to keep off trespassing as the damaged pier is under reconstruction on Feb. 24, 2013. Japan's progress in rebuilding from the tsunami that thundered over coastal sea walls, sweeping entire communities away, is mainly measured in barren foundations and empty spaces.

Photo by Junji Kurokawa/AP

A woman lights candles to pay tribute to the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at a make-shift alter in a park in Tokyo.
A woman lights candles to pay tribute to the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at a make-shift alter in a park in Tokyo Sunday, March 10, 2013

Photo by Junji Kurokawa/AP

A Buddhist statue recently built in honor of tsunami victims.
A Buddhist statue recently built in honor of tsunami victims is silhouetted at sunset on the seashore in Arahama district in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture

Photo by Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

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