Japan sits atop four tectonic plates and is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.
A few days after I came to Japan more than 10 years ago, earthquake woke me up at 3 in the morning after the dormitory building where I am staying swayed for more than 10 seconds. Cold as it is on a winter night, I still went out with only my pajamas on.
The dormitory corridor was silent – not one single soul came out of their rooms! People have been so accustomed to the quakes that they sleep through it!
At that time I thought that was just crazy. Two to three times, I would be jolted by a minor quake and get out of my room at weird times in the night. After a few years though, I have managed to sleep through it. Very dangerous, to think that my school is located in the Kanto area — the area that is expecting “THE BIG ONE”.
Following are some facts about Japan and earthquakes.
- Japan, situated on the “Ring of Fire” arc of volcanoes and ocean trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin, accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
- A tremor occurs in Japan at least every five minutes, and each year there are up to 2,000 quakes that can be felt by people.
- The Great Kanto earthquake of September 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9, killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area. Seismologists have said another such quake could strike the city at any time.
- On January 16, 1995, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit central Japan, devastating the western port city of Kobe. It was the worst earthquake to hit Japan in 50 years, killing more than 6,400 and causing an estimated $100 billion in damage.
- On October 23, 2004, a 6.8 magnitude quake struck the Niigata region, about 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, killing 65 people and injuring 3,000.
- On March 25, 2007, a 6.9 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, about 300 km west of Tokyo, killing one person, injuring more than 200 and destroying hundreds of homes.
- The Tokyo metropolitan government said in March 2006 that a magnitude 7.3 earthquake under Tokyo would probably kill more than 5,600 people and injure almost 160,000. Official estimates of economic damage have topped more than $1 trillion.
- German insurer Munich Re was even more pessimistic, saying in 2004 that a severe earthquake in the Tokyo-Yokohama area would kill hundreds of thousands of people, cause damage running into trillions of dollars and have global economic repercussions.
Taken from CNN News.