03/09/2012 10:56 am ET Updated Mar 09, 2012

ABC's Bill Weir Returns To Japan For One Year Anniversary Of Earthquake, Tsunami (VIDEO)

"Nightline" anchor Bill Weir recently returned to Japan to report on how survivors and ravaged towns have changed since a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country last year.

The disaster, which hit on March 11, 2011, killed an estimated 19,000 people and destroyed more than 120,000 buildings. Weir had anchored "Nightline" from Japan in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Weir traveled across the country for the one-year anniversary, revisiting the people and places that ABC News reported on last March. In the video above, he toured the town of Minamisanriku, which was decimated by the tsunami. He also went to an elementary school where waves killed 74 students. He said that a memorial constructed by the students' parents was "one of the most devastating things I've ever seen."

In a statement to The Huffington Post, he said that returning to the tsunami zone was "emotionally devastating," and that there was an "overwhelming air of sadness" even in places where life has returned to normal.

"Imagine driving the kind of picturesque coastline you'd find in the Pacific Northwest, only town after town has been replaced by razed tracks of mud, and gigantic piles of neatly organized rubble," Weir explained. "In the most fortunate places, they have recovered most of the bodies and the families are able to mourn at a grave. But there are hundreds of families still looking."

The anchor also said that he observed one significant difference in survivors in the year since the disaster.

"In the days after the quake, our crew marveled at how the Japanese would form these orderly lines in front of shattered grocery stores or gas stations and would refuse to help themselves to food from shattered stores," Weir recalled. "But that sense of respect and order also kept many from questioning authority during the nuclear crisis -- something that has noticeably changed ever since. Almost to a person, we heard people describe their rage toward the Japanese government."

His reports will air on “World News with Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline" beginning Friday, March 9. Additional reports will also air on "World News with David Muir" and "GMA Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday.