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Memorial events and ceremonies held throughout affected region

The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network--Memorial ceremonies and events related to the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, were held Sunday ahead of the third anniversary in areas hit hard by the disaster.

About 1,300 people attended a memorial ceremony and laid flowers on an altar in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, where 1,814 people were killed or went missing, including those who died of causes related to the disaster. The figures are the largest among municipalities in the prefecture.

Tomoyuki Murakami, a 43-year-old municipal official who acted as an usher at the ceremony, lost his mother and his second son in the disaster. The two are believed to have been engulfed by the tsunami after they returned home from a day care center.

Last May, a baby girl was born to the family. “I will raise my two children to share the happiness my second son would have enjoyed,” Murakami said.

The birth of his daughter has encouraged him to live positively.

The municipal government of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, whose residents were forced to evacuate from their homes because of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, held a memorial service in Aizu-Wakamatsu, where the town office moved to. About 80 people attended. Twelve people died or went missing due to tsunami, and 101 died of causes related to the disaster.

On the beach in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, about 300 middle school students and others painted pictures on seawalls in the hopes of a quick recovery from damage caused by the disaster.

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