Japan to mark a year of tragedy

Tokyo: Japan will come to a pause at 2.46 pm tomorrow to mark the exact moment when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country a year ago, as Government papers revealed that the Cabinet was warned of the possibility of a meltdown at Fukushima after the tsunami.

A summary of the government meetings held about four hours after the giant earthquake unleashed a tsunami showed that one unidentified person at the meeting had cautioned of a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear reactor.

The meeting was convened soon after the plant was hit by the killer waves on March 11, 2011, Kyodo news agency reported, saying that the government summary of the meeting was unveiled just before the first anniversary.

Three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered meltdowns. "If the temperature of the reactor cores rises after eight hours, there is a possibility that a meltdown will occur," the person said at the meeting, according to the official summary.

The Fukushima plant, 220 kms Northeast of the capital Tokyo spewed radiation after its cooling systems were knocked out by tidal waves leaving thousands of people dead or missing.

Wiser a year later, Japanese government is organising evacuation drills across the country to prepare for future quakes and tsunami. Some are planned under the scenario in which nuclear power plants suffered a meltdown just as Fukushima Daiichi did.

Memorial services are to be held in the northeastern prefectures hit hard by the tsunami as well as in Tokyo and elsewhere.

Emperor Akihito, who is recuperating from heart bypass surgery, will attend a government-sponsored memorial ceremony at the National Theater in central Tokyo along with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and representatives of those who lost their family members in the natural disaster, it reported.

At the plant, a moment of silence will be observed and an apology issued to the public once again for causing the country`s worst nuclear accident.

Ahead of the anniversary, some events were also held in Japan today, including a Buddhist memorial service at a temple in Osaka featuring about 16,000 candles with names of disaster victims etched on them.