How Does Japan Cope With the Truth of Earthquakes?
Earthquakes are seen everywhere, all across the world, located on or near the fault lines where the plates can diverge, converge, or slide past each other. This is the truth that forms the world’s geography; however, civilization surrounded everywhere, and the phenomenon of earthquakes was formed into a devastating thing rather than just a release of energy from the underground, causing catastrophic outcomes like we can observe today in Türkiye. With its wide region on a long fault line, Türkiye is one of the leading earthquake countries in the world. Starting from Hatay and affecting Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman, Elâzığ, Tunceli, Bingöl, Muş, Erzincan, Tokat, Çorum, Bolu, Düzce, Sakarya to Kocaeli, a long fault line causes many of the cities in Türkiye to be highly susceptible to earthquakes. We had seen the big 1999 Düzce earthquake with a 7.4 magnitude and now, 24 years later, we have encountered a similar disaster in the Hatay-Kahramanmaraş region. While we are incredibly saddened by the losses and outcomes, a priority should be to take some lessons from this devastating occurrence because the truth continues as the discussion of a possible Istanbul earthquake is brought back up to the agenda. We were not prepared for this type of disaster; however, there are some examples in the world to look up to for future precautions.
The first region that comes to mind is when the word “earthquake” is mentioned in Japan. The islands of Japan are located where four of the Earth’s tectonic plates converge, which makes it one of the most fertile areas for earthquakes in the world. This area is very well known as the “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific Ocean. Japan also is home to approximately 10% of the world’s active volcanoes, which is again related to tectonic activity. Japan uses a 10-step intensity scale, and in the report that was published by Statista in January 2023, the average number of earthquakes above 5.0 that can be considered “major” differed from around 4 to 7 per year between 2013 and 2022. The real major disaster year was 2011, with over 30 earthquakes and over 5.0 recorded by Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). This frequency of high-magnitude earthquakes in the islands led to them being experts in coping with the truth of it. Let’s talk about what Japan does that helps them to live through earthquakes with minimal damage.
Let’s start off by talking about their cell phones. All Japanese cell phones come with an earthquake alert system, which gives people, at best, a 5 to 10-second interval to find a spot before the shaking starts. This technology and preparedness really come across as fascinating. However, of course, the major system is established in the buildings to save lives. Many Japanese buildings have a rail system below them, which acts as a stabilizing system where the building also swings on the rails as the earthquake happens and stabilizes the building rather than causing a collapse in the foundation. This magnificent system helps Japanese people experience major earthquakes without an after-fear of any situation of building collapsing. Trains in Japan are also prepared where seismometers are placed, which signal to halt the train if any seismic activity is detected.
These mechanisms hold great importance but would not become a reality if Japanese people were not aware and educated about the truth of earthquakes. People of Japan face this truth rather than neglecting it, observing the post-traumatic outcomes and starting the earthquake drills from a very early age, such as in kindergarten. People are taught not to panic in an earthquake situation, and they even gain experience in simulation machines. This no-panic attitude adds so much to the process of getting back with their lives and living with this truth.
As we see, Japan excelled at coping with earthquakes and established a very high standard that all earthquake countries should learn and copy from, including Türkiye. Natural disasters are uncontrolled; however, limiting the damage is possible, as demonstrated.
Edited by: Bilge Öztürk
"Annual number of major earthquakes that occurred in Japan from 2013 to 2022." Statista, www.statista.com/statistics/1166128/japan-yearly-number-of-major-earthquakes/. Accessed Jan. 2023.
"Deprem fay haritası: En riskli ülkeler hangileri, Türkiye'de hangi il ve ilçeler deprem bölgesinde?" euronews, tr.euronews.com/2023/02/09/avrupa-deprem-haritasi-en-riskli-ulkeler-hangileri-turkiyede-hangi-il-kacinci-deprem-bolge.
"Earthquakes in Japan: What to know before you go." Japan Rail Pass, 15 June 2022, www.jrailpass.com/blog/earthquakes-in-japan.
Heginbotham, Claire. "How Japan Deals with Earthquakes (and why It's the safest country in the Ring of Fire)."
, 19 June 2018, clairehagin.medium.com/how-japan-deals-with-earthquakes-and-why-its-the-safest-country-in-the-ring-of-fire-42925f22f1ff.