The staggering loss of life and property still overwhelms people who were caught up in the historic magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeast coast three years ago, and for many of the survivors, rebuilding their lives has been a slow process.

The nation on Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake with prayers for more than 18,000 people who died or remain missing, while more evacuees joined lawsuits against the government and Fukushima No. 1 plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Disaster-struck communities continue to struggle, with thousands of evacuees still living in temporary housing, including many forced to leave their homes amid the Fukushima No. 1 meltdown calamity.