At 2:46pm local time today, people all across Japan stood in silence to remember the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami exactly one year ago that killed more than 19,000 people, destroyed 370,000 homes, and created the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, reports the AP. Sirens marked the earthquake, trains stopped, and a Buddhist priest in one coastal town rang a huge bell. At Tokyo's National Theater, Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stood in silence, along with hundreds of others.
"We shall not let our memory of the disasters fade, pay attention to disaster prevention, and continue our effort to make this land an even safer place to live," said the emperor, who underwent heart surgery just 22 days ago. The earthquake caused at least $200 billion to the nation's coast, cities, roads, and ports, and today there are still 260,000 people living in temporary housing, reports the Washington Post. "We will stand by the people from the disaster-hit areas and join hands to achieve the historic task of rebuilding," said the prime minister.