KESENNUMA, Japan — Japan's progress in rebuilding from the tsunami that thundered over coastal sea walls, sweeping entire communities away, is mainly measured in barren foundations and empty spaces.
Next week, Japan will observe the second anniversary of the March 11, 2011, disaster that killed more than 19,000 people.
In dozens of towns along the country's northeastern Pacific coast, from tiny Ryoishi in the north to Fukushima farther south, where some areas remain off-limits due to radiation fears, the tsunami zone remains a wasteland. Scattered along the coast are huge piles of rubble and stacks of smashed scooters and cars.
The government has promised faster action on resettling the tens of thousands of people left homeless by the disaster, but the local economies were already in decline, doubling the challenge for reconstruction. Clearing of forests on higher ground due to be leveled to make space for relocating survivors has barely begun.
Here is a gallery of images from the tsunami zone.