Mourners Pay Tribute to Japan Tsunami Victims on 2nd Anniversary

An event was held on Sunday in Little Tokyo for the victims of Japan's worst earthquake and tsunami in 2011

By Ted Chen and Jason Kandel
|  Sunday, Mar 10, 2013  |  Updated 9:41 PM PDT
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A memorial event to the 18,000-plus people who died in the March 10, 2011 Great East Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan was held just west of Little Tokyo. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013.

A memorial event to the 18,000-plus people who died in the March 10, 2011 Great East Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan was held just west of Little Tokyo. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2013.

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A memorial service near Little Tokyo commemorated the 18,000 who perished in the earthquakes and tsunami waves that ravaged eastern Japan two years ago Sunday.

With ecumenical services, prayers, flower and incense offerings and traditional dance and musical tributes, attendees remembered the dead and the 300,000 people who remain in temporary housing after their homes were destroyed.

Japan is still cleaning up from its worst nuclear disaster. It could be several more years before a full recovery at the damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, experts say.

“I was almost dead,” said survivor and event organizer Masako Unoura Tanaka outside the event held in the Ronald Deaton Auditorium at the Los Angeles police headquarters. “I only had two minutes to be on the roof … more than 2,000 people were gone like that.”

Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Derrick Woolever, a member of the search and rescue team, remembers arriving after the tsunami hit and seeing destruction he had never seen before.

“When there's vehicles stuck on the third floor of a building … that's something I have not seen in any kind of an earthquake,” he said.

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