The devastation from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami will not soon be forgotten. It has left an indelible footprint on the collective consciousness of Japan and, indeed, the rest of the world. While photos of Japan’s speedy response in many of the stricken areas are certainly inspiring, it’s important to remember that the prefectures worst hit by the natural disaster are still in the process of recovery, with a great many citizens continuing to live in refugee shelters.

It has been two and a half years since the Tohoku disaster which left over 18,500 people either dead or recorded as missing, and reconstruction and recovery efforts are in full swing. Even so, there are still roughly 290,000 people from Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures living in evacuation shelters, temporary housing, or other sorts of refuge. This is despite the number of refugees decreasing by 25,000 people over the last six months.

While a large portion of the refugees are still unable to return due to damage caused by the tsunami and earthquake, over 52,000 of the refuges remain displaced as a result of the ongoing issues with the reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, including irradiated water leakage. As the problems in Fukushima seem to be growing instead of abating, it’s hard to say exactly when those with homes within the irradiated area will be able to return.

On September 11, a 1,000-person-strong team searched the coastlines of the three prefectures for the 2,654 people still missing. With such a massive number of individuals still unaccounted for, it is undoubtedly difficult to even discuss recovery. While the massive loss of life was and continues to be beyond horrifying, we can only imagine how much more difficult it must be for those still seeking some sort of closure.

It is certainly a heartbreaking situation and we can only hope that recovery, and a return to some sort of normality, will continue as smoothly as possible.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News, Tasukeai Japan
Image source: Japan Tourism Agency