Three years on, life is still nowhere near back to normal for many of the people in the Tohoku coastal areas devastated by the massive earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear power plant disaster. Meanwhile, concerns grow that the events of March 11, 2011, are fast fading from the memories of people less affected by the disasters. The entire nation must face the realities still confronting people in the disaster-ravaged areas and keep the task of rebuilding their lives a top priority over the long term. We urge the government to accelerate reconstruction efforts by flexibly responding to displaced people's needs.

Some progress has been made. Restoration of public infrastructure such as roads, riverbanks, railways, sewerage and tap water supply systems are roughly 90 percent complete. The removal of the mountains of debris that dotted the tsunami-swept areas are about to be finished in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, although efforts are lagging in Fukushima Prefecture due to the additional work of cleaning up the radiation fallout from the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Many of the port facilities of Miyagi and Iwate crippled by the tsunami have now been rebuilt and the hauls of fisheries industries there have returned to roughly 70 percent of the levels before the disasters. Due to the nuclear disaster, however, the catch by Fukushima fishermen lags behind pre-disaster levels.