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Japan’s 3/11 Disaster Endures in Broken Families

Chikako Abe’s desk is decorated with flowers and candy at her school in Minamisoma, a reminder of a 17-year-old life cut short a year ago. Instead of attending a graduation ceremony this month, her family will pray tomorrow at the ruins of a house where the sea snatched away the lives of Chikako, her father and two grandparents.

“She was always the center of our family,” said Chikako’s mother Yukari Abe, 43, fighting back tears next to the concrete foundations where the house stood. “The year has gone by so fast, even now I feel that she will come back.”