At precisely 2:46 p.m. local time Sunday, a moment of silence was observed across Japan to mark the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people and left unbelievable devastation in its wake.
"I feel the grieving families' pain and I cannot express my sorrow enough," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said. "Our forebears who built this country's prosperity have emerged from each crisis even stronger. We will fulfill our historic mission of realizing the rebirth of this nation."
The country has made incredible progress in cleaning up towns and cities devastated by the natural disaster -- including the dangerous work of decontaminating the Fukushima nuclear plant -- but there's much more work to be done. Check out these images of the same area and the difference one year has made...
Click here to see more astonishing then & now photos