How Japan was Ready for the Earthquake?

Japan-EarthquakeThe northeast coast of Japan was hit by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake on Friday, the 11th of March. The quake also triggered a 30 foot tsunami that flooded Japan’s coastline. Tsunami effects were felt as far the U.S and Hawaii coasts.

The casualty numbers currently stand at 8000 dead and over 12,000 missing. However, as bad as the situation currently is, it could have been much worse if a quake of this magnitude had hit any country other than Japan.

Japan is one of the most prepared countries in the world for a disaster like this. And here’s why.

Japan probably has the toughest building sanctions in the world and has spent billions of dollars to make its buildings safer. Concrete is still used in a lot of construction so most of the buildings have deep foundations. Many modern techniques are also employed in order to protect the buildings against an earthquake, for instance, base isolation. It involves mounting the building at the ground level on large rubber blocks or sliding bearings, which allows the building to sway rather than act as a rigid structure which is much more prone to collapse. These act as shock absorbers on a car. Japan also enforces tough rules on building gas and water pipeline.

Other than building sanctions, Japan is also using technology and has employed a $ 1 billion early earthquake warning system which was launched in 2007. And this earthquake proved the money was well spent. The system sent out a warning to millions of people 10 seconds before the earthquake struck. People who were further away, like those in Tokyo got a full 1 minute heads up. The warnings also go out to railway operators who slow down; to crane operators who move heavy machinery and building material away from people; and gas and electricity companies who immediately halt their activities.

Japanese children are told what to do in an earthquake from a very early age. Every year, routine drills are carried out. In the last annual drill, over 670,000 people participated.

The need for these measures and the effort Japan exerts is because Japan accounts for 20% of the worlds most powerful earthquakes.

There is no doubt that a lot of lives were saved due to Japans preparation. Now, other countries prone to earthquakes are moving to mimic the Japanese system for disaster management.

There’s a lesson to be learned for us Pakistani’s too. Bring in mind the earthquake of 2005, and the chaos that ensued after it. It is clear we were simply not prepared for it. It’s required that our government take a look at the Japanese model and try to emulate it so that lives can be saved when the next disaster strikes.

Talal is a Director at ProPakistani. Reach out at [email protected]

  • Akhtar

    Nice article aamir bhai plz tell something about American department of defense’s High_Frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program H.A.A.R.P …. either its really exist or just rumors

    • Akhtar

      Plz write something about H.A.A.R.P

      • Akhtar

        plz answer

    • Shahid Saleem

      The only “theories” about HAARP are conspiracy theories, Akhtar. Forget them and concentrate on facts. HAARP is a scientific project.

      • Ahmed

        @Shahid Saleem, Atleast you can do one thing is search on youtube videos showing what HAARP is and what HAARP Project Manager is claiming in one of these videos (that video is very much in detail) it can do before calling it a conspiracy theory.

        • Shahid Saleem

          No one MAKING the videos is a scientist. Believe me, conspiracy theories.

          Or can anyone (not even a scientist) tell me how sending RADIO WAVES to the HIGH ATMOSPHERE can cause EARTHQUAKES UNDER GROUND?

          Does it make senses to you? Why?

  • Omer

    “The system sent out a warning to millions of people 10 seconds before the earthquake struck” – Do you really think it’s an effective time against such huge quake?

    “It’s required that our government take a look” – Just yesterday UN revealed Pakistanis are now taking loans to pay for food and you people are passing this childish statements like a desperate political party campaigning.

    • Shahid Saleem

      — Do you really think it’s an effective time against such huge quake?

      If people had ten minutes or even an hours warning, it would not be enough, don’t you think? Maybe five or six hours is enough time to evacuate everyone from the main disaster zone. Also, think: if they spend $0 for an early warning system, no one will get a warning. A lot of the early warning system cost is RESEARCH. Without research, they cannot increase 10 seconds to 10 minutes.

      — Just yesterday UN revealed Pakistanis are now taking loans to pay for food and you people are passing this childish statements like a desperate political party campaigning.

      It has to be desperate! Don’t you understand? A big reason why the buildings didn’t crash down are because of BUILDING STANDARDS. All the government has to do is copy their STANDARDS and make sure all new buildings in Karachi or Lahore or Peshawar are against the new standards.

      This is not new. LDA, CDA, etc already have standards, they just need to update them and enforce them.

      Do you think most buildings in Pakistan can stand a 6. or 7. earthquake? Earthquake scale is log not linear: 7.4 quake is 100 times the strength of 7.2.

    • Gemni

      Every day there is a disaster in Pakistan, Government itself is disaster…

  • imkhalid

    309 billion $ will be the expenditure on reconstruction and 1 billion $ Warning System

    • Shahid Saleem

      Japan has over 120 million people. If only 20,000 died or are missing, that’s 0.0167%. So, what do you think? Is it worth it to save so many lives?

    • shahzad

      Think of a mother who was able to safe her child due to this early warning by leaving her house in time …. I had lost three cousins in 2005 AJK earthquake because they were not able to get out of the room in time.

      For us, human life is not valuable we can sell whole nation for just few Rs (in the name of Deeat :-( ) …. but for Japan it is worth to save a life even if they have to spend more than that ….. Last year Chile spend more than 20M to rescue 33 miners …. if that was in Pakistan…. we might have said, its not worth to save those miners :-(

  • Imran

    @Author, You are right that our goverment must look into it. but what about other issues we are currently faceing. Are we in such a condition to spend this much amount for disaster system.
    I am sorry to say that a country can’nt spend this much amount as there is nothing for poor peoples to eat. Millions of peopel doesn’t have a facility of clean drinking water. yes WATER.
    What else?

    • Shahid Saleem

      People say the same thing about dams. Can we afford them? I ask you, can we afford another flood?

      • Imran

        Well brother we are in such location where we are not facing Japan types earthquakes. A Japan has many earthquakes every year, but in Pakistan there is totally different situation. And you are talking about Dam’s they are necessary too. With the amount Japan spend for its system, we don’t need. But if we can spend this amount for DAM. it will be good for the whole nation.
        But let me tell you one thing. For this we have to Knock
        IMF Door,
        with more strict restrictions.
        With more expensive electricity.
        With more expensive food iteam.
        And you know Pakistan is the only country where a person spends it 43% of earning for food.
        Now giving relief to nation, lets install Japan’s like system and makes dams.

        • Akhtar

          Yes i am agree with you where 43% of your earning spend on food items then who can think about infrastructure like Japan

          • Imran

            You are right brother. At present no body care about all these issue in the world and in Pakistan.
            Every one is just thinking to earn enough for his children so that they can eat one more day.

  • Akhtar
    • Shahid Saleem

      Leave the stupid conspiracy theories.

      Next you’ll tell us HAARP was responsible for Pakistan’s flooding.

      • Ahmed

        What HAARP Project Manager himself is claiming is wrong ? After this what you have to prove that he is making false claims ? ?

        • Akhtar

          its really hard and unacceptable to listen or think about these stupid conspiracy theories for some people

    • tamkin


  • very nice… but i think Pakistan is never gona implement it due to pathetic politicalities….

  • lazina uktamaal

    trueeeeeeeee stupid pakis

  • rabia mir

    exuse me lazina if ur a paki then don’t say stupid pakis u dog
    sorry every1 but she deserves this