By Kindra Jones Japan - A Leader in Disaster Preparation
The 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan March eleventh and the tsunami that resulted from it were just the latest natural disasters in a long chain stretching back as far as memory.
Deadly quakes, and the tsunamis they cause, are a part of Japan's past. About 1,500 earthquakes strike Japan every year. Minor tremors can happen nearly everyday.
More recently, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,000 people.
The anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, for example, which killed more than 100,000 people around Tokyo, is now Disaster Prevention Day in Japan. The wreckage left after the Great Kanto Earthquake
Many of the smaller tremors caused by this shoving cannot be felt, but citizens are used to experiencing medium sized quakes.
The reason Japan has such a large potential for earthquakes is that the nation sits on top of four huge slabs of the Earth's crust, called tectonic plates. These plates push and grind together, making Japan a section of the Ring of Fire.
Children know what to do the moment the earth begins to shake: slip a padded cover over their heads and hide beneath the nearest desk. People who are at home when an earthquake strikes know, almost instinctively, to shut off the gas to prevent potential fires.
Many households even keep a basic earthquake survival kit of bottled water, chocolate, a helmet, a first-aid kit, and matches, as well as small radios.
Japan’s famous bullet trains automatically stop if a sizeable earthquake occurs. All along the Japanese coast, tsunami warning signs, seawalls, floodgates and escape routes offer protection from the walls of water triggered by large earthquakes.
Those people who work in the upper floors of Tokyo’s skyscrapers know that their quake-resistant buildings will sway, but probably (hopefully) stay upright.
This is because newer buildings in Japan are built with deep foundations, the most advanced supported by shock absorbers that allow the structure to move with the earth, rather than against it.
In fact, Japan has some of the strictest building codes in the world to try to prepare for earthquakes like the one that happened in March.
These precautions, along with earthquake and tsunami evacuation drills that are routine for everyone living in Japan, show why Japan is the best-prepared country in the world for the disasters of earthquake and tsunamis.
But how did Japan get this way? Next is Akiko Mueller to explain how, through history, Japan learned from their mistakes to become the leading country in disaster preparation.