From peaceful vigils to angry protests, people all over Japan marked the anniversary of a disaster that devastated the county three years ago.
The largest earthquake to ever strike Japan and the tsunami that followed destroyed entire towns in the north, killing nearly 16,000 people. The tsunami also hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering a meltdown which forced tens of thousands to flee.
(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER, SHINZO ABE, SAYING:
"There are many people who still can't go home due to the nuclear accident. Speeding up the recovery process in order that the evacuees can return to a normal life as soon as possible, is the only way we can repay the many souls of the victims that watch over us in heaven."
The natural disaster and nuclear crisis shocked the nation which had believe nuclear power was safe. Katsuo Sato, a former resident of a town three miles or five kilometers from Fukashima, lost his son.
(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) KATSUO SATO, SAYING:
"Three years have passed, but I haven't really been able to come to terms with my feelings. As a temporary measure, we arranged and went through with the whole funeral process but even if you go through with the funeral, and the body hasn't turned up, that just feels really bad."
Despite growing anti-nuclear sentiment, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to restart nuclear reactors across the nation, which have been shutdown since the disaster.