Japan on Tuesday (March 11) marked the third year since the triple disaster of 2011 that devastated the north-eastern part of the country, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowing to speed up recovery.
The 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck at 1446 local time (0546 GMT), triggering tsunami waves as high as 30 metres (100 feet) that swept away residents and their homes. Nearly 16,000 people are confirmed dead, with 3,000 still unaccounted for three years after the catastrophic event.
The recovery is far from complete. As of February 2014, 270,000 people were still without permanent homes, including refugees from radiation that spewed from the devastated Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant.
Around 1,200 representatives of government and private officials gathered in downtown Tokyo to mark the occasion by holding a moment of silence at the exact moment the quake hit and laying flowers in commemoration.