Japan has observed a moment of silence to mark the second anniversary of a devastating earthquake and tsunami that claimed nearly 19,000 lives and caused the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
At a national ceremony in Tokyo Monday, attended by Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and other top government officials, attendees stood in silence at 2:46 p.m., the exact time the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011 off Japan's northeastern Pacific coast.
Anti-nuclear demonstrations were also planned across Japan to call on the country to abandon nuclear power generation.
The quake triggered a killer tsunami that swallowed coastal communities, battered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and left nearly 19,000 people dead or missing.
Efforts to rebuild the disaster-hit region have been slow. Figures show more than 300,000 people are still without a permanent home, many remaining in cramped temporary housing units.
People bow their heads in a moment of silence around what is left of a disaster control center devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, March 11, 2013.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe bows to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko during the national memorial service for the victims of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in Tokyo, March 11, 2013.
Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko leave the national memorial service for the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tokyo, March 11, 2013.
People observe a moment of silence for the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami during an event at a park in Tokyo, March 11, 2013.
A local resident and a dog walk near a ship brought ashore by the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, March 11, 2013.
The Netherlands (top) and Cuban baseball teams offer a silent tribute to victims of March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunam, before their World Baseball Classic (WBC) second round game in Tokyo, March 11, 2013.
Buddhist monks chant sutras in front of the main entrance of Okawa Elementary School where 74 of the 108 students went missing after the March 11, 2011 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, March 11, 2013.
Police officers search for the remains of those who went missing in the March 11, 2011 tsunami on the coastline in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, March 11, 2013.
A visitor lights a candle to remember the victims of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and earthquake, in Tokyo, March 10, 2013.