The municipal government of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, held a memorial service Sunday for the more than 1,500 residents who died in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The ceremony was held at a local elementary school ahead of Monday's second anniversary rites and was attended by more than 800 people, including Mayor Futoshi Toba.

"The citizens must make concerted efforts to realize reconstruction as soon as possible" to overcome the tragedy of the disasters, Toba said in a speech.

According to the prefectural government, 1,556 people from Rikuzentakata were killed by the quake and tsunami and 217 remained missing as of last month.

Meanwhile, the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, which cohosts the power plant that triggered the nuclear crisis, held a memorial service the same day in Aizuwakamatsu, where Okuma set up its provisional municipal office.

Some 10,960 Okuma residents were displaced by the nuclear fallout and remain refugees.

Last December, most parts of the town, accounting for 96 percent of all residential land, were designated as "areas where it is difficult to return."