Japan Remembers 2-year old Anniversary of Earthquake and Tsunami

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 11, 2013 6:43 PM EST

Today is a day like no other in Japan as the country remembered the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami on March 11, 2011 that left 15,881 dead and 2,668 still missing.

The nation observed a moment of silence at 14:46 (05:46 GMT), the exact time the earthquake struck off along the northeastern coast. It was Japan's strongest recorded earthquake in history.

But unlike other past incidents where people may have been expected to have moved on, the Japanese remained anxious as the 2011 disaster could actually just be the start of bigger and equally destructing earthquakes to come.

The University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute in January 2012 had forecast Tokyo will again face the wrath of a 7.0-magnitude or higher quake by 2016. If it does occur, the death toll could ring in at up to 11,000 people and $1 trillion worth in damages to the world's third-largest economy.

The March 2011 not only gave off a frightening earthquake of such magnitude. It also led to a killer tsunami that not only destroyed coastal communities but also pounded on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The impact was so great that it resulted to meltdowns and explosions, the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.

At the time it was happening two years ago, the Gravity Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), a super-sensitive satellite owned by the European Space Agency, was able to detect the sounds the earthquake registered on land.

"The atmospheric infrasounds following the great Tohoku earthquake ... induced variations of air density and vertical acceleration of the GOCE platform," a report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters said. It noted that the magnitude 9.0 tremor "sent shock waves through the atmosphere" which the satellite picked up.

Two years after, Japan still feels the effects of the accidents, what with 315,196 people still displaced and without permanent homes, living in cramped temporary housing units.

"Unless spring comes to the Tohoku region, a real spring won't come to Japan. We are determined to accelerate reconstruction work," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in video posted on YouTube Monday. The Tohoku region is Japan's northern region greatly devastated by the disaster.

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