Rattled buildings, shattered glasses, damaged roads and lost lives… As the world welcomed a new year, Japan shook with an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 on January 1st 2024, and was followed by over 1,200 aftershocks with some of them being over the magnitude of 5.0. Many citizens were affected and many people lost their homes, loved ones and other valued belongings. It not only affected Japan’s west coast but it also affected it’s neighbor, South Korea. Moreover, it was reported that around 34,000 survivors were staying in shelters since the 5th of January.
With this powerful seismic activity, there were many fires and it is estimated that hundreds of houses were on fire in several places. This earthquake was the biggest that happened in Japan after almost four decades. Moreover, as a result of Japan being an island, the neighboring states were affected with a risk of tsunami as well. These countries included Russia and North Korea along with South Korea.
The Noto Peninsula Earthquake reminded the world of the disastrous drawbacks of natural disasters, especially earthquakes once again. Considering the fact that Japan is vulnerable to seismic activities, having an average rate of loss showed the preparedness of Japan to the whole world. However, there were still over a thousand houses that collapsed and 700 people that were injured. With the most severe damage being in Wajima City, many parts of Japan's infrastructure are critically damaged, making it harder to transport essentials such as clothing and food to people in need. The rescue workers are still fighting to save people from wrecks all over the city meticulously.
An earthquake with a similar magnitude also took place in Türkiye almost a year ago and there were many more problems such as the death rate, collapsed buildings and needs compared to Japan. But why? The main reason behind this is Japan’s awareness of the situation, their vulnerability to natural disasters, and taking action to take precautions. However, Türkiye was not prepared to face a disastrous earthquake unlike Japan and we did not have enough precautions about this issue, resulting in a higher death and loss rate, despite the rescue workers' immense work and the fund that was raised.
Now let’s talk about some of the precautions that Japan took and become a benchmark to every state that wants to take action before it is too late. The first one I will talk about is the awareness that they have. Due to the geographical and geological location of Japan it has a higher risk of earthquakes than many other countries. Japan has a location that is close to a key point where three major tectonic plates interact. Both the citizens and the government are aware of the circumstances they are in, and they start to learn about what to do before, during and after an earthquake in small ages, in kindergarten, resulting in a more educated generation and a lower rate of loss. Secondly, the high technology system that warns people seconds before the earthquake, creating the main component of Japan’s preparedness. Every mobile phone that is used in Japan has this feature, saving many lives with just a simple notification. Furthermore, any building in Japan is earthquake-proof and even the trains are equipped with earthquake detecting systems to stop the engine from moving to prevent any possible dangers and ensure safety. Lastly, the televisions in Japan have the feature to change the channel to official earthquake coverage so that the citizens can be informed on how to stay safe, where to seek help, the current news and any dangers that may regard even new natural disasters such as tsunamis as an aftermath of earthquakes.
All in all, the Noto Peninsula Earthquake affected many people in Japan both financially and morally. I personally, with all my kindness, wish a fast recovery to everyone and I hope that the states that are vulnerable to natural disasters learn from this incident and take even more precautions to make hard days pass easily.
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