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Okinawa to mark Tohoku Earthquake anniversary

Date Posted: 2012-03-09

The earth rumbled 32km beneath the ocean surface, sirens sounded and the tsunami waves swept across central Japanís Tohoku region, unleashing devastation never before seen on such a scale.

It was 2:46 p.m. March 11th, 2011, one year ago Sunday, killing 15,850, injuring 6,011 and leaving another 3,287 people missing across 18 of the nationís prefectures. It was the worst earthquake ever to strike Japan, and the fifth worst in the world. With the rebuilding of the region estimated to cost $300 billion, it has shattered the world for tens of thousands of people.

Sunday Okinawa joins Japanís citizens in remembering the fateful day, with plans for a mourning event at the JICA Okinawa International Center in Urasoe City. The five-hour event begins at 11 a.m. with a silent prayer for last yearís earthquake and the victims, while offering a venue for the people of Tohoku who escaped to Okinawa to mingle with their Okinawan hosts. The day promises to create memories for both the official and the private sectors, and gives college students an opportunity to participate.

The event is planned to become an annual remembrance, bringing together local activities with support for those in the stricken area. Organizers say the event is designed to insure the tragedy will never be forgotten with passage of time.

Sundayís first anniversary event will include an exhibition of products, including Okinawa soba, Chinsuko, Awamori and Sa-ta-andagi, while bringing in from Tohoku boiled potatoes, sake, sweets and an ornament for the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. There will be Eisa dance, salsa and Shi-Shi mai, lessons in Eisa and salsa, singing and games to bring people together.

Local groups participating and performing include Kachimba5, drum group Waka-Taiyo, and Maeda Eisa and the Ginowan City Maehara Youth Association.

With damages estimated at $235 billion, the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami is said to be the most devastating and expensive natural disaster in world history. The quake measured 9.0 on the Richter scale, and tsunami waves topped 40 meters (133 feet) in Miyako in Iwate Prefecture. Waves traveled 10 kilometers inland. The earthquake shifted Honshu 2.4 meters (8 feet), and shifted the earthís axis by an estimated 10-25cm.

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