At a memorial service Monday in Tokyo attended by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, attendees stood in silence at 2:46 p.m., the precise moment the 9.0-magnitude quake struck off northern Japan on March 11, 2011. The earthquake was the strongest recorded in Japan's history and unleashed a towering wave that wiped out entire coastal communities.
The tsunami also set off a crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, causing three reactors to melt down and spew radiation. More than 100,000 people had to evacuate.
All told, some 300,000 people remain displaced by the disaster two years later, and virtually no rebuilding has begun.