Japan and Earthquake/Tsunami Mitigation

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Japan and Earthquake/Tsunami Mitigation
Geography 312 – Term Paper
Alexandra Bradshaw – 301144682
March 29th, 2012

On March 11th 2011, Japan suffered a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off its northern coast, followed by an enormous tsunami which took the lives of around 20,000 people. An earthquake of this magnitude had never been experienced in the history of mankind, and came as a shock to many seismologists. With the title of being the most earthquake prepared country in the world, Japan was thought to be properly armed against any quake that came its way. Mitigation efforts are the most technological of anywhere in the world, and ensuring people are prepared for such events has been an important task since the last devastating earthquake in 1995 in the city of Kobe. These efforts include building codes, early warning systems, coastline defences and various others. Even after a year, Japan is still reeling from this event, and one wonders if they will ever bounce back from such a blow to their landscape, their people, and their economy. The questions to be asked then are why did so many people perish in this disaster (even with the most advanced warning systems), and what can Japan do to revitalize itself with regards to physical, cultural, and economical adaptations? Japan’s Earthquake History

The people of Japan have been recording their earthquakes since the dawn of imperialism – at least 1600 years ago (Bressen, 2011) – and have since had various explanations for these rumblings. According to Japanese folklore, the earthquakes were caused by an enormous catfish named Namazu who was buried in the ground and subsequently would cause the quakes with the shaking of his tail (Bressen, 2011). Even with the modern era, naturalists would write off earthquakes as being punishment for greedy people by the gods. Only until recently have investigating the real cause of these earthquakes come to fruition. Japan lies within the “Ring of Fire”, an area in the Pacific...
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