At 2:46 p.m. on Sunday, Japan observed a moment of silence to mark the seventh anniversary of the mega-quake and tsunami that left about 18,000 people dead or missing while triggering the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The anniversary of the calamity on March 11, 2011, arrived as about 73,000 people from the disaster-hit areas have yet to return to their hometowns.

They include about 34,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture, who have no choice but to live outside the prefecture due to the radioactive contamination caused by the three reactor core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power station.