Associated Press

On Sunday March 11, 2012, Japan will mark the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami disaster that changed the country forever. It was a day that will always be remembered as one when the world witnessed terrible destruction, confusion and utter heartache for those affected. An intense earthquake at 0546 GMT, which hit 8.9 on the Richter scale, unloaded a massive tsunami that tore through Japan's eastern coastline. The terror did not end there. More than 50 sizeable aftershocks occurred throughout the day. March 12, 2011, brought further devastation with an explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Hundreds of thousands were forced to evacuate their homes for fear of radiation poisoning. The past year has been one of rebuilding for the Japanese people. The world looks back at last year's tragic events and honors the memory of those lost. The disaster has resulted in $220 billion in reconstruction costs. For resources to offer relief or dontaions, please visit www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.

Surrounded by water
Associated Press

This file photo taken March 13, 2011, and provided by the U.S. Navy, shows a Japanese home adrift in the Pacific Ocean, days after a massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami hit Japan's east coast. Scientists believe ocean waves carried away 3-4 million tons of the 20 million tons of debris created by tsunamis that slammed into Japan after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake nearly a year ago. One-to-two million tons of it — lumber and other construction material, fishing boats and other fragments of coastal towns — are still in the water and are being carried across the Pacific by ocean currents. One to five percent of that may reach coastlines in Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and Washington states.

Punishing waves
Associated Press

In this March 11, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), tsunami waves approach tanks of heavy oil for the Unit 5 reactor of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Just four days after a meeting by Japan's government regulators and utility officials about a worst-case scenario, the towering tsunami swept across the plant, destroying backup generators, sending reactors into meltdown and setting off the world's nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Fallen building
Associated Press

A fallen building is seen in the neighborhood destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture.

City of ruin
Associated Press

People walk past a damaged building in the neighborhood destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 9, 2012, two days before the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

Wasteland
Associated Press

Workers chat with the backdrop of a 11-meter (36 feet) tall and 9-meter (30 feet) in diameter fish oil storage tank that was carried 300 meters inland from a port by the March 11 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 9, 2012. It has been nearly one year since a monstrous earthquake triggered a tsunami that roared across Japan's northeastern coast, transforming once-pristine and thriving towns into waterlogged wastelands and sparking the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter-century.

Tsunami force
Associated Press

In this March 11, 2011 file image taken from a footage released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), tsunami, center right to a tower, hits the sea side of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Just four days after a meeting by Japan's government regulators and utility officials about a worst-case scenario, the towering tsunami swept across the plant, destroying backup generators, sending reactors into meltdown and setting off the world's nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Unstoppable power
Associated Press

In this March 11, 2011 file photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), cars are swept away by waves of tsunami near tanks of heavy oil for the Unit 5 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.

Commuters stranded
Associated Press

In this March 11, 2011 filer photo, stranded commuters wrap themselves in blankets bracing for chilly evening at a park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, following a strong earthquake hit eastern Japan. The Japanese government's worst-case scenario at the height of the nuclear crisis last year warned that tens of millions of people, including Tokyo residents, might need to leave their homes, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press. But fearing widespread panic, officials kept the report secret.

Nuclear crisis
Associated Press

In this March 18, 2011 photo, passengers crowd a check-in area at Narita Airport, east of Tokyo. The Japanese government's worst-case scenario at the height of the nuclear crisis last year warned that tens of millions of people, including Tokyo residents, might need to leave their homes, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press. But fearing widespread panic, officials kept the report secret.

Crippled power plant
Associated Press

Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is seen from bus window.

Searching for bodies
Associated Press

Police officers search for the bodies of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami victims, in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, northeastern Japan, Friday, March 9, 2012. It has been nearly one year since a monstrous earthquake triggered a tsunami that roared across Japan's coast, transforming once-pristine and thriving towns into waterlogged wastelands and sparking the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter-century. In the last 12 months, some progress has been made in rebuilding lives, but much remains unfinished.

Digging through debris
Associated Press

In this photo provided on Friday Feb. 10, 2012 by World Press Photo, the 1st prize People in the News Stories category of the 2012 World Press Photo Contest by Yasuyoshi Chiba, Japan, Agence France-Presse shows the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan, April 3, 2011. Chieko Matsukawa shows her daughter's graduation certificate as she finds it in the debris in Higashimatsushima city, Miyagi prefecture, Japan.

Waterlogged wastelands
Associated Press

Cars pass by the 330 ton and 60-meter (200 feet) fishing vessel Kyotoku Maru No. 18 which was flung 800 meters (0.5 mile) inland from Kesennuma port by the March 11 tsunami in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 9, 2012. It has been nearly one year since a monstrous earthquake triggered a tsunami that roared across Japan's northeastern coast, transforming once-pristine and thriving towns into waterlogged wastelands and sparking the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter-century.

Nuclear exclusion zone
Associated Press

Japanese evacuees from the towns inside the nuclear exclusion zone remove protective white suits after Shinto priests held a memorial ceremony in the abandoned and irradiated town of Namie in Japan's Fukushima prefecture on Sunday Feb. 19, 2012. A group of former residents returned to the area for the day to hold the ceremony at the site of the ancient Kusano shrine that was destroyed by the March 11, 2011 tsunami.

Unit 4 reactor building
Associated Press

A worker wearing protective suit and mask works atop of destroyed unit 4 reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Monday, Feb 20, 2012. Japan next month marks one year since the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, which triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Kesennuma, Japan
Associated Press

In this March 17, 2011 file photo, Japanese residents of Kesennuma, Japan, pass through a road that was cleared by bulldozer through the ruins of the city. Those charged with clearing the debris left by last year's earthquake and tsunami faced a monstrous task: towering piles of twisted metal and wood, boats perched atop roofs, mountains of family heirlooms, sodden furniture and children's toys. They also faced the grim reality that many of the 19,000 people killed lay entombed in the rubble, waiting to be discovered.

Tsunami devastation
Associated Press

Clothing, lying in heaps at the site of a neighborhood destroyed by the tsunami, is piled up by clearing crew in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012. Cleanup continues to remove the debris left by the March 11, 2011 tsunami and separate it according to material or category such as clothing, steel, wood, cars, tires, and personal items.

Protective suits
Associated Press

Workers wearing protective suits and masks prepare for work in front of the emergency operation center at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.

Radiation screening
Associated Press

A worker is given a radiation screening as he enters the emergency operation center at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant
Associated Press

Members of the media wearing protective suits and masks visit Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, led by TEPCO officials. Japan next month marks one year since the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, which triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Remembering a neighborhood destroyed
Associated Press

Yasuo Sugizaki, 66, draws a painting of a neighborhood destroyed by the 2011 March 11 tsunami from "Hiyori Yama," or Weather Hill, at Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, Thursday, March 8, 2012, nearly one year after the disaster ravaged Japan northeastern coast.

Road to recovery
Associated Press

In this Feb. 23, 2012 photo, Japanese residents of Kesennuma, Japan, cross a road in the destroyed part of the city. One year after a powerful tsunami battered Japan and killed around 19,000 people, the streets have been cleared and the wreckage removed from town centers. But the process of destroying all that debris has been slow, with much of it still sitting in huge mountains in temporary holding areas.

Liberty survives
Associated Press

A replica of the Statue of Liberty that was damaged by the March 11 tsunami stands in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 9, 2012, two days before the one-year anniversary of the disaster. Although the most of buildings in the neighborhood were destroyed by the tsunami, the 9-meter (30 feet)-tall statue, built in 2010 as an tourist attraction, has survived and kept standing.

In remembrance of those lost
Associated Press

Flowers and water are offered on a makeshift altar in a vacant land next to a damaged building in a neighborhood destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 9, 2012, two days before the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

Buddhist monk chants
Associated Press

A Buddhist monk chants sutras as he walks through a neighborhood destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, Friday, March 9, 2012.

Cleaning up the waste
Associated Press

Workers pile up plastic bags containing radiation-contaminated fallen leaves and surface soil collected from surrounding area in the municipal baseball field for temporary storage in Okuma, a town where the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is located, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012. A massive earthquake and tsunami badly damaged the plant last March, resulting in the melting of three reactor cores and more than 100,000 people around the plant fled their homes after the disaster due to radiation fears.

Removing the debris
Associated Press

In this photo taken Thursday, March 1, 2012, workers carry debris in Minamisanriku nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town. In a sign of progress, much of the debris from the tsunami has been picked up from the flat former town center of Minamisanriku, and gathered in huge piles by the port, where it is being sorted - some by hand - and carted off by dump trucks for incineration or recycling. The Japanese government aims to finish the entire tsunami cleanup process over the next two years.

'Cats island'
Associated Press

Star fish are being dried for plant food on the ground in Tashirojima island, known as "Cats island", off Ishinomaki city, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, Friday, March 9, 2012, two days before the anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Stray cats feeding tourism
Associated Press

A stray cat lies on a road in front of the debris of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami on Tashirojima island, known as "Cats island", off Ishinomaki city, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, Friday, March 9, 2012, two day before the anniversary of the disaster. The tsunami-hit isolated island, well known for more than 80 stray cats who local residents said survived the disaster, are on the way to the recovery using the cats as tourist resources.

'Cat Shrine'
Associated Press

A man visits the "Cat Shrine", which enshrined cats on Tashirojima island, also known as "Cats island", off Ishinomaki city, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, Friday, March 9, 2012, two day before the anniversary of the disaster.

Uniting to rebuild
Associated Press

In this photo taken Thursday, March 1, 2012, shipbuilder Yoji Abe, foreground, builds a ship in Minamisanriku, nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town. A year after the disaster, the pain of unthinkable loss - personal and communal - still runs deep in the coastal area. As Minamisanriku prepares to rebuild its houses in the surrounding hillsides - a big project that will take at least four or five years to complete - many residents believe that it will never return to the cozy seaside town it once was.

Finding normal
Associated Press

In this photo taken Thursday, March 1, 2012, people shop at a temporary store in Minamisanriku, nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town. In late February, Minamisanriku opened a temporary shopping area of 30 stores and eateries, providing a space for some local businesses to earn money and an opportunity for local residents to gather and socialize. However, no permanent structures have been built yet as the town plans to carry out an ambitious reconstruction plan that will move the residential areas to nearby hills and raise the flat, sunken coastal area where shops and fishing-related businesses will be built.

Looking ahead
Associated Press

Friday, March 2, 2012, Kei Sato carrying his granddaughter Momoka in his back and his wife Hiroko look at the description of a recovery program of their town at their temporary residence in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture.

Fueling up to move on
Associated Press

In this photo taken Friday, March 2, 2012, a masked couple buy kerosene at a temporary stand in Minamisanriku, nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town.

Temporary housing
Associated Press

Friday, March 2, 2012, clothes are hung to dry outside temporary houses in Minamisanriku, nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town. Some 2,174 temporary housing units have been built in and around Minamisanriku, a fishing town in northeastern Japan that sustained some of the heaviest damage from the March 11 tsunami. The town's ambitious reconstruction plan calls for rebuilding residential areas in surrounding hills, a difficult project that is estimated to take four or five years to complete.

Regular family outing
Associated Press

In this photo taken Thursday, March 1, 2012, a family walks along a temporary shopping center in Minamisanriku, nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town. In late February, Minamisanriku opened a temporary shopping area of 30 stores and eateries, providing a space for some local businesses to earn money and an opportunity for local residents to gather and socialize. However, no permanent structures have been built yet as the town plans to carry out an ambitious reconstruction plan that will move the residential areas to nearby hills and raise the flat, sunken coastal area where shops and fishing-related businesses will be built.

Sunrise brings a new day
Associated Press

In this photo taken Thursday, March 1, 2012, tourists admire the sunrise while dipping in a hot spa at a seaside hotel in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. One year on, the pain of unthinkable loss still runs deep in the town of Minamisanriku, once-picturesque fishing town famous for its salmon, seaweed and octopus.

Never forget
Associated Press

In this photo taken Friday, March 2, 2012, Takayuki Sato, a 71-year-old fisherman, carries buckets of water to clean the family grave in Minamisanriku, nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town. Sato lost his wife and mother in the tsunami that obliterated most of this once-picturesque fishing town famous for its salmon, seaweed and octopus. Their bodies were never found. He also lost his best friend, an aunt and uncle, his house and three boats. Nearly everything from his old life is gone.

Loved ones lost but not forgotten
Associated Press

Takayuki Sato cleans the family grave in Minamisanriku, nearly a year after the March 11 tsunami hit the northeastern Japanese town.

Praying for those lost
Associated Press

A group of people offer prayers for the March 11 earthquake and tsunami victims on "Hiyori Yama," or Weather Hill, decorated with banners reading "praying for revival from the disaster" in a neighborhood ravaged by the disaster nearly one year ago in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, March 8, 2012.