|Three years on, 100,000 Japanese tsunami survivors still in temporary housing, nuke plant leaking
Japan marks the third anniversary of the quake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear plant explosion today. The quake and tsunami killed 18,000 and sparked a nuclear plant blow up. The nuclear plant is still leaking dangerous, highly radioactive water and the explosion has laid to waste huge areas.
Remembrance ceremonies will be held in towns and cities around the disaster zone and in the capital Tokyo, where Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are to lead tributes.
Many local governments will switch on a tsunami alarm siren at 2:46 pm local time, marking the exact moment a 9 magnitude undersea quake hit.
Waves caused by the quake crashed into the Fukushima nuclear plant, sparking reactor meltdowns and explosions, and setting off the worst atomic crisis in a generation.
The crippled plant remains volatile and experts say the complicated decommissioning process will take decades, as fears persist over the long-term health effects of leaked radiation. The accident forced tens of thousands to flee from areas around the site.
Although no one died as a direct result of Fukushima, about 1,650 area residents died from complications related to stress and other problems following the accident.
A total of 15,884 people are confirmed to have died in the tsunami with another 2,633 still listed as missing. Searchers still find human remains.
Despite the government pledging billions of dollars in reconstruction aid, progress in disaster-hit regions has been slow, and thousands of disaster refugees struggle to cope.
Among almost 270,000 evacuees from the tsunami and Fukushima, about 100,000 are in temporary housing while others found shelter in new cities or with relatives.
Japan has so far built only 3.5 percent of the new homes promised to disaster refugees in heavily affected Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.
That has sowed doubt among many people, with some 77 percent of Japanese saying the pace of reconstruction has fallen short, according to a poll conducted by Kyodo News and other media organisations this month.