Japan's national memorial for Fukushima disaster

Huge waves triggered by the 9.0-magnitude quake - one of the strongest on record - crashed into the northeastern coast, crippling the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant and forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee as radiation spewed into the air.

At 2:46 p.m., exact moment the earthquake struck a decade ago, Emperor Naruhito and his wife led a moment of silence to honor the dead in a commemorative ceremony in Tokyo. Silent prayers were held across the country.

"I hope people in difficult situations will not be left behind, and that they will be able to return to their peaceful everyday lives as soon as possible," the Emperor said in the ceremony.

At the ceremony attended by emperor and prime minister, the attendees wore masks and kept their distance, and did not sing along with the national anthem to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The representative of the victims in Iwate Prefecture Shoji Sato, who lost 11 of his relatives, addressed the auditorium.

"Ten years have passed since then. It is often said that a decade can bring a lot of changes. But for our family, the past ten years have given us mixed feelings, it was long and short, and it was a time of complicated feelings," Sato said.