Japan commemorates earthquake anniversary

The Japanese government has held a commemorative ceremony in Tokyo, paying tribute to those who lost their life in the earthquake five years ago.

Japanese Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, together with 1,200 officials and foreign dignitaries, gathered in Tokyo to observe a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. Friday, exactly five years after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck the country.

At the ceremony, Japanese Emperor Akihito said it is important that no one still in difficulty is overlooked and everyone can return to normal life as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Abe acknowledged that many people are still struggling, but said “reconstruction is steadily making progress, step by step, with housing being rebuilt and jobs regained”

Abe’s Cabinet approved on Friday a new 6.5 trillion yen or $57 billion five-year reconstruction plan through 2020 to speed up construction of public housing for evacuees, and for medical care, infrastructure, tourism promotion and other projects.

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