Article by Sara Yamasaki (UWCAC 2014-2016)
In recent earthquake reports seen in the news, we are reminded of the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake and the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. In the Nepal Earthquake many buildings collapsed resulting in many deaths and injuries whilst the Japan Earthquake provoked a tsunami higher than 40 metres that also caused devastation. Japan’s nuclear power plant was destroyed by the tsunamis as it was forced to shut down. The leak of the radioactive substances had a major impact on tourism and damaged the agriculture and marine industry in Japan.
In the history of Japan, earthquakes were believed to be triggered by the upsetting of a big catfish living underground. Japan has been researching earthquakes for many years in order to prevent tragedies from happening. The Pacific Ring of Fire is a region surrounding the Pacific Ocean where large numbers of earthquakes and volcano eruptions occur due to the overlapping of plates under the Earth’s surface. This is where the world’s biggest earthquakes occurred such as in Chile, Alaska and Sumatra. Earthquakes are inevitable in Japan so it is essential for this little island to think of ways to survive. Even though Japan is said to be the safest place in the world, it is also one of the countries in which natural disasters occur most frequently. These natural disasters can be earthquakes, volcano eruptions, typhoons, tornados, tsunamis, sediment disasters, floods and avalanches.
An earthquake in Japan that occurred in 1923 resulted in many dreadful fires that eventually burnt out the Kanto region (Tokyo and its surrounding areas). The fire spread to a massive scale because in those days, houses were built out of wood and since Japan’s capital was overcrowded even at that time, spaces for individual houses were small, enabling the fire to spread out rapidly. Because of the many earthquakes happening now, there are laws to restrict the structure of buildings and to encourage those that can withstand the shakes made by earthquakes. School and companies are required to practice the evacuation of buildings to ensure safety and must store food and water to accommodate people who are unable to go home in such incidents. Seaside areas are required to build seawalls to prevent tsunamis from coming inland. People in Japan have put much effort into overcoming these disasters. There are still earthquakes occurring and many tragedies have additionally been triggered by volcano eruptions recently. I hope that Japan will continue to use its advanced technologies to prevent tragedies from occurring from natural disasters.
Picture of an eel and Japanese people suffering earthquakes