More than 18,000 people were left dead or missing in the disaster, which also caused the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Since then, most of Japan's nuclear reactors have remained off, amid impassioned debate over nuclear energy.
At a service of remembrance in Tokyo, Japanese Emperor Akihito spoke in praise of the survivors and relatives of the dead.
"I am always deeply moved by seeing how so many people lead their daily lives without complaining," he said. "[I hope] to be able to share their suffering, if only a little."
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also attended the memorial service, pledged to accelerate reconstruction work.
"Japan will never experience a true spring if spring does not come to north-eastern Japan. I promise never to forget the weight of each day and promise to speed up the reconstruction of the region," he said.
"I will make Japan a country resilient to disasters while standing on the side of people who were affected."
Two years have gone by and Joseph Campbell's observation on the Japanese people has stood the test of time, yet again:
Why I think the Japanese are going to come back stronger than before
Japan has just gone through one of the worst disasters in modern history. The earthquake was so big that it increased the rate of our planets spin and the tsunami that followed was watched all over the world Live as it swept away cars and buildings.
It also caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which left the region severely contaminated and forced more than 160,000 residents to leave their homes. It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from the contamination zone, where a clean-up operation is still under way.
I was part of a group taken in to the Fukushima plant last week, only the second time foreign TV journalists have been allowed in since the disaster two year ago. Very little that we saw in our brief two-hour tour was reassuring.
Our first stop was reactor building number four. This place was potentially the most worrying.
Inside the shattered building, more than 1,500 spent fuel rods were still sitting inside a cooling pool. They were still highly radioactive and the pool was outside the reactor's steel and concrete containment vessel, perched high on the third floor.
A race is now on to get the fuel rods out. A huge steel structure is being erected around building four that will be used to raise the spent fuel out.
But that operation will not start until the end of this year, and will then take two more years to complete. If another large earthquake strikes during that time there is real concern the building could collapse.
Tepco, the company that runs the plant, told us the building was now strong enough to withstand another quake. But contractors who
I think that the long term way to deal with future natural disasters is to decentralize. Decentralize food production. Developing Self-Sufficient & Self-Sustaining Local Economies & Businesses
& Decentralize energy, making it easily available for the individual (no nuclear energy, ever)...
New Wind Turbine Design Good for Rural, Urban Environment...
Info on large wind farms in development in the UK: UK offshore windfarms – interactive
Individual & town/village sized solar power...
Basic Solar Battery backup: http://www.mysolarbackup.com/
Green Horizons' Mobile Central Service Unit provides enough clean energy and emergency water for a temporary, off-grid village
81.5 MW Solar Power Plant for Japan by 2014
An example of living on solar power in Pakistan (with no power costs, life become simpler and it's easier to start your own business or keep communications/TV going without a centralized power source/station)... [From CNN International]
A wave power developer has said tests of a device off Scotland's coast exceeded expectations...