World News

    Japan Marks 3rd Anniversary of Devastating Earthquake

    Japan is marking the third anniversary of the earthquake-tsunami disaster that killed over 18,000 people and caused the world's worst nuclear crisis in decades.

    A moment of silence was held across the country at 2:46 p.m. local time Tuesday, exactly three years after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit.

    At a ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of the need for resilience and promised to speed up much-needed reconstruction efforts.



    "Our predecessors overcame many troubles and much suffering, but each time got back up stronger than before. Those who live today must learn from them and I hereby pledge to work together hand-in-hand to meet whatever challenges face us."



    The undersea quake triggered a killer tsunami that swallowed coastal communities. It also battered the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which suffered three meltdowns and still spews radiation into the atmosphere.



    Despite billions of dollars in government pledges, efforts to rebuild the disaster-hit region have been slow. More than 270,000 people are still without a permanent home, many remaining in cramped temporary housing units.

    Engineers say it will take at least four decades to dismantle the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

    Temple University Asian studies professor Jeff Kingston tells VOA frustration is widespread.



    "I guess people probably didn't imagine that there'd still be more than a quarter million people still displaced by the events of three years ago. Most people are disappointed with the pace of rebuilding. A vast majority of people think it's going way too slow and the government needs to do more to push it forward."



    In some of the worst-hit areas, many wonder if the government intends to rebuild at all.

    Yuzo Uehara traveled Tuesday to the town of Minamisanrikucho, much of which remains either destroyed or deserted.



    "It feels as if time passed quickly, and at the same time slowly. If you say three years - children would have grown. But as you can see, there's nothing here. That's the reality now."



    There have also been protests at Mr. Abe's plan to restart nuclear reactors that were closed for safety checks in response to the crisis.

    Michael Cucek with the Tokyo-based MIT Center for International Studies tells VOA the government views nuclear power as a crucial source of energy.



    "Basically, Japan is burning through its checkbook to buy fossil fuels around the world at very high prices which are jacked up precisely because Japan has no choice. The figures came out yesterday, (Tokyo reported) the biggest capital account deficit in Japan's history. We have a huge trade deficit, also mostly due to the increase in consumption of fossil fuels trying to replace lost generating capacity at Fukushima."



    Back at Tuesday's ceremony in Tokyo, Emperor Akihito was focused less on policy and more on unity. He said despite frustrations, it is important that the Japanese people "unite their hearts and stand by each other."

    Leaders from around the world also began sending in their well-wishes on Tuesday's anniversary. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that he continues to be "impressed by the strength of the Japanese people" in overcoming the crisis. He said the U.S. will continue to stand "shoulder to shoulder with our Japanese friends as they rebuild their lives and communities."

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora