Seismologists predict tsunami, massive earthquake in Japan

Kyodo: A Japanese government panel said on Tuesday that tsunami as high as 30 meters could hit Hokkaido in northern Japan and Iwate in the northeast, if a 9 magnitude on Richter scale earthquake occurs along the sea trenches off the country’s Pacific coast, reports Japan Times.

While the cabinet office panel said it is difficult to calculate the possibility of such an earthquake. It pointed out the fact that a massive tsunami has happened in the region every 300 to 400 years with the latest observed in the 17th century.

Seismologist Kenji Satake told the Mainichi (Japanese newspaper) that an earthquake and tsunami would definitely take place as it has always happened several times in the past 6,000 years. The cabinet office has also created a working group to estimate the damage that could be caused and to study countermeasures. The panel looked at simulation, based on the analysis of tsunamis of past 6000 years and covered seven regions including Hokkaido, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Aomori and Chiba. The panel predicts Iwate to be worst-hit with a tsunami of 29.7 metres, followed by Hokkaido with 27.9 metres.

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“A massive earthquake of this class (shown in the simulation) would be difficult to deal with by developing hard infrastructure (such as coast levees). To save people’s lives, the basic policy would be an evacuation,” said Satake.

A 6.9 magnitude earthquake occurred in Japan on April 18, 2020. But there was no tsunami and no reports of damage or injuries. According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, this earthquake did not have much impact as it occurred in the Pacific Ocean, west of the Ogasawara Island chain, which is around 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo.

In March 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 shook northeastern Japan and left more than 15,000 people dead and 120,000 buildings destroyed.  The direct financial damage from the disaster was estimated at about $199 billion. It was the costliest natural disaster in world history.

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