Japan Sunday marked the first anniversary of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that hit its northeast coast last year.
The earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale and a powerful tsunami struck May 11, 2011, and killed around 16,000 and injured around 6,0. Another 3,317 people are listed as missing, and police and coastguard officers are still searching along the coasts.
The nation marked the day with prayers, a minute of silence and anti-nuclear rallies.
In the port of Ofunato, hundreds of black-clad residents gathered at the town hall to lay white chrysanthemums at an altar dedicated to the town's 420 dead and missing, Reuters reported.
Ofunato observed a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. local time, the hour the quake hit last year.
Demanding an end to nuclear power, 16,000 people gathered at a baseball stadium in Koriyama, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was knocked out of action by the tsunami.
In Tokyo, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Emperor Akihito joined at a memorial event.
"A year has passed since the Great East Japan Disaster but it is still unbearable to think of the pain of the survivors and the despair of families whose loved ones have passed away," Noda said in a memorial broadcast live throughout the nation.
"Our forebears who built this country's prosperity have emerged from each crisis even stronger. We will fulfill our historic mission of realizing the rebirth of this nation through reconstruction while holding hands with people in the disaster-affected regions and being close to them," he added.