Frequent Earthquakes in Japan

Earthquakes in Japan has become more frequent these last couples of years. Japan is considered the eighteenth largest country in Asia with 145,914 square miles (377,915 sq km) (Briney 2018). Out of many Asian countries, Japan was one of the countries in Asia that had the worst earthquakes happened to. Why is Japan prone to earthquakes and why does it happen to them frequently? Japan dealt with such drastic damage that they are still in recovery from the damages. Many died from this earthquake and got severely injured. Japan’s volcanic activities could be a lead factor for why Japan is frequent to earthquakes. Find out more about Japan’s location, environment, and the history of the earthquakes how it still affects today.

        On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a devastating tsunami. The earthquake was so powerful that the effects were felt around the world from Norway’s fjords to Antartica’s ice sheet (Oskin 2017).  The earthquake on March 11 started on a Friday at 2:46 p.m. local time (5:46 a.m. UTC). It was centered on the seafloor 45 miles (72 kilometers) east of Tohoku, at a depth of 15 miles (24km) below the service (Oskin 2017). The earthquake lasted approximately six minutes. People in Tokyo received a minute warning before the earthquake hit the city, thanks to Japan’s earthquake early warning system. The country’s seismic building codes and early warning system prevented many deaths from the earthquake, by stopping high-speed trains and factory assembly lines. Also, the people of Japan received text alerts of the earthquake and tsunami warning from their cellphones.

In Japan, residents are still recovering from this disaster. As of February 2017, there were still about 150,000 evacuees who lost their homes; 50,000 of them were still living in temporary housing, Japan’s Reconstruction Agency said (Oskin 2017). More than 120,000 buildings were destroyed, 278,000 were half-destroyed and 726,000 were partially destroyed (Oskin 2017). The direct financial damage from the disaster is estimated to be about $199 billion dollars (about 16.9 trillion yen), according to the Japanese government. The total economic cost would reach up to $235 billion, the world bank estimated, making it the costliest natural disaster in world history (Oskin 2017). The number of confirmed deaths was 15,000+ and more than 2500 people were reported missing.

The earthquake shifted Earth on its axis by rotating and redistributing mass. The Japan trench forms part of the Ring of Fire. Japan lies along what is called the Pacific Ring of fire, it looks like a horseshoe shape zone that follows the rim of the Pacific Ocean, where most of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Most of Earth’s volcanoes are located around the Pacific Ring of Fire because that the location of most of the Earths subduction zones, fitting what describe Japan’s traits. Along the 2011 Tohoku earthquake hit offshore of Japan, a subduction zone where two Earth’s tectonic plates collide. In a subduction zone, one plate slides beneath another into the mantle, the hotter layer is under the crust. The great plates are rough and they stick well together. According to Scientists they drilled into the subduction zone soon after the earthquake and discovered a thin, slippery clay layer lining the fault. Japan sits on or near the boundary of four tectonic plates, the Pacific, North American, Eurasian and Filipino plates. Because of these plates, the east coast can be hit by a tsunami as well. So Japan’s location was able to receive tsunami because, after the 2011 tsunami less than thirty minutes after the earthquake, many tsunami waves hit Japan’s coastline.

        Japan’s environment is quite clean and is among the world’s least polluted country. Japan takes pride in having blue skies, mandatory recycling, and Prius taxis. Japan manages to clean up without having to spend money on growth by investing in pollution-control technologies. A city in northern Kyushu in the 1960s Kitakyushu heavy industries polluted chemicals contaminating local bay so badly it becomes known as the Sea of Death. Kawasaki has rebranded itself as an eco-city and building Japan’s largest solar polar plant on landfill and turning recycling waste into a business. Japan’s temperature is usually cool, due to a lot of rain in the capital. The hottest average temperature of 79 Fahrenheit temperature in August and coldest is January 41 Fahrenheit temperature. The wettest month in Japan is in June (Tomomi 2017). In February, it falls to 10-11 Celsius, during the daytime, and 35.6 Fahrenheit in the morning and at night. It tends to be dry since most days are sunny, and it is likely to rain or snow. Humidity in Japan stays around 30%.

        After the 2011 earthquake that happened in Japan, tsunamis come in and deal serious damages to Japan. The tsunami waves that hit on March 11, 2011, reached up to 128 feet at Miyako city and traveled as far as 6 miles in Sendai (Oskin 2017). The waves overtopped and destroyed protective tsunami waves hit Japan’s coastline. The tsunami waves overtopped and destroyed protective tsunami seawalls at several locations. The massive surge was able to destroy three-story buildings where people gathered for safety. The tsunami was strong enough to even generate a huge whirlpool offshore. The tsunami flooded approximately 217 square miles (561 square kilometers) in Japan. Many people assumed and underestimated their personal risk that the tsunami would be small as ones they had previously experienced. Scientists studied the tsunami deposits to better understand ancient sediment records of the deadly waves. Earthquake engineers checked for damages, looking for possibilities to build buildings more resistant to quakes and tsunamis. The research is still ongoing today.

Initial reports that people are still missing from the earthquake on March 11 to this day that shocked Japan residents. Reports state that after the massive hit, buildings have crumbled and destroyed the lives of the living. The cost of rebuilding Japan’s economy was an upwards towards $235 billion and destroyed more than 120,000 buildings and 726,000 damaged. Direct financial damages were an upwards of $199 billion ($16.9. Trillion Yen). The cost of living was about 18,000 people. The number of death was 18,894 confirmed dead, and more than 2,500 people were still missing. Warning signs showed that the waves of the tsunami were as high as 128 feet (39meters) in Miyako city. Coming into shore approximately 6miles (10km) inland. Since water rushed in and so far inland it created a nuclear meltdown that causes the cooling system to fail at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Resulting in a level 7 nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials. The electrical Power and backup generators were overwhelmed by the tsunami and the power plant just lost its cooling capabilities. The tsunami’s damage aftermath, Japan’s meteorological agency was criticized for issuing a tsunami warning that underestimated the size of the wave. The country recently had to release a newly installed, and upgraded tsunami warning system. In some regions, like Fukushima and Miyagi only 58 percent of people headed for higher ground immediately after the earthquake. The surge of water carried an estimated 5 million tons of debris out to the sea. Japanese docks and ships and countless household items have arrived on U.S. and Canadian shores in the ensuing years. The U.S. military fired on and sank the derelict boat in 2012 in the Gulf of Alaska.

        In conclusion, I feel sad for the residents of Japan, so many residents of Japan died from this tragic event. What happened to Japan was just big news all around the world, because it became one of the biggest natural disasters in the world records. The number of people who died and became missing was like a whole city population. Living in Japan climate seem to be really relaxing with a decent amount of rain and not very hot or cold temperature. The Pollution in Japan is awesome how they support going green driving Prius and not support chemical power plants affect the blue skies. Japan being declared the cleanest country in the world makes me want to go down and check it out. Learning Japan’s earthquake and tsunami history taught me some internal lifestyle with living conditions and weather.

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Frequent Earthquakes in Japan. (2019, Aug 08). Retrieved September 19, 2021 , from

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