apan gathered Sunday amid tears, prayers and a moment of silence to mark one year since a massive earthquake and tsunami killed thousands and triggered a nuclear crisis.
Throngs nationwide observed a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. local time (12:46 a.m. ET), the exact time the earth shook on March 11, 2011.
The 9.0-magnitude quake literally shifted the earth's axis and unleashed a wall of water that swept away lives, homes and sent millions of people fleeing for higher ground.
Nearly 16,000 people died and 3,000 others remain missing.
Later Sunday, citizens will continue to mark the anniversary across the country, with a main ceremony at the New National Theatre in Tokyo. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to attend and offer remarks.
He recently addressed rebuilding efforts, which represent Japan's greatest challenge since the end of World War II. Total damage is estimated at about 25 million yen, or roughly $300 billion so far.FULL STORY