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Japanese Buddhists, Christians mark six-month anniversary of earthquake, tsunami

While the United States was observing the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Japan on Sunday was marking the six-month anniversary of the March earthquake and tsunami that devasted a large portion of the island nation.

The Japanese observed the anniversary with prayer services, bell ringing and chanting at 2:46 p.m., the time when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off Japan’s eastern coast.

About 20,000 people were killed or remain missing, with an estimate 400,000 people displaced, according to the Japanese Red Cross.

According to Ecumenical News International:

In devastated northeastern Japan, monks held a Buddhist memorial service at Kongo temple in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture. In the town of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, worshippers at Dai-ichi Bible Baptist Church stood on a wooden platform near a simple wooden cross and joined hands at the site of their former building, swept away in the disaster.

At the ruined disaster control center of the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, survivors, including a Buddhist monk, prayed and burned incense at a temporary shrine set up inside, according to media reports.

In Tokyo, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan and the National Christian Council in Japan held a joint worship service “to keep in mind the 11 March disaster, remember the dead, and seek comfort for the survivors and the restoration of the affected areas,” according to organizers.

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