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10 Years After the Great East Japan Earthquake

The solemn marker of a difficult decade for people and communities affected by the events of March 11, 2011

By 2 min read

At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2021, Japan will mark a decade to the day since a major earthquake struck off the coast of Tohoku, sending a massive tsunami crashing into Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, and triggering a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The earthquake’s magnitude measured 9.0 on the seismic scale — one of the most powerful ever recorded — and the resulting catastrophe was the largest natural disaster in Japan’s modern history.

The lost

Soldier and workers near Sendai in 2011.

According to Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) figures, the total number of deaths attributed to the disaster is officially 15,900 across 12 prefectures as of March 2021, including a woman whose remains were identified in Miyagi Prefecture on March 4.

The most deaths were 9,543 in Miyagi, followed by 4,675 in Iwate and 1,614 in Fukushima. The NPA figures also list another 2,525 people missing and presumed to have died in six other prefectures. Of those, 1,215 remain missing in Miyagi, 1,111 in Iwate and 196 in Fukushima. More than 6,000 people were injured and others died during the evacuation or later, mainly in the three hardest hit prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.

Most major relief agencies, including the Japanese Red Cross Society (which was one of the first on the ground to offer assistance immediately after the quake) have wrapped up their support measures. The Red Cross have turned their attention to helping with the current coronavirus pandemic but they are always ready to assist in Japan when disaster strikes and are always in need of donations. Find out more at the Japanese Red Cross Society donation page.

Other aid organizations, like Second Harvest Japan, are still continuing to help in the region. If you’d like to assist their ongoing efforts, please visit Second Harvest Japan online to find out how you can help.

The memorial

A survivor of the tsunami looks over his destroyed town.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will attend a memorial ceremony at The National Theatre in Tokyo on the afternoon of March 11 and observe a minute of silence at 2:46—the same time the earthquake struck. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will be in attendance, too.

While we wish that an event like the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami never happens again, we want our readers to be safe and prepared. Visit these links for more information on how you and your family can be prepared in case of an emergency:

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