Japan’s leader, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has toured the country’s north-eastern coast to see for himself the damage wrought by the recent earthquake and tsunami.
While there he made a promise to survivors that the government would continue to support them.
Speaking to evacuees at an elementary school in Rikuzentakata, a town of 20,000 that was virtually wiped off the map by the tsunami, Kan said the government would remain firm in its resolve to rebuild.
More than 16,000 people are still missing in the area.
He stopped at the town hall in Rikuzentakata to inspect the building which still stands but has broken windows and tangled debris all around.
Kan stopped there to observe one minute of silence for the dead and missing.
Prime Minister Kan also toured the crisis-struck Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex which was also severely damaged by the 9-magnitude earthquake.
On Sunday, a massive land, air and sea operation will begin to look for bodies that may have been washed away by receding tsunami floodwaters.
Ships and helicopters will be launched to scour the coastline for the remains of victims.