Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Introduction :

Japan is one of the East Asian country. It holds third economic position in the world. Japan accounted for about 10 percent of the world’s economic activity through occupying only 0.3 percent of the world’s surface and supporting about 3 percent of the world’s population. But sometimes Japan faces some natural disasters like frequent earthquake and Tsunami. These natural disasters affected Japan’s social, economic and environmental sectors. Like the very recent earthquake and Tsunami made the Japan as a wreckage. It caused extensive and severe structural damage in Japan, including heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collapse. Around 4.4 million households here left without electricity and 1.5 million without water. The International Atomic Energy Agency- described the crisis as “extremely serious”. Though these types of natural disaster suffered Japan for long time, its heavy economy supports it to cover up the destruction. The recent destruction of Japan for earthquake and  Tsunami will be covered up soon, if Japan economy starts to run properly.

Earthquake Tsunami In Japan, 2011 :

Earthquake in Japan :

The 9.0 magnitude (Mw) undersea mega thrust earthquake occurred on 11 March 2011 at 14:46 JST in the western Pacific Ocean at a relatively shallow depth of 32 km with its epicenter approximately 72 km east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku, Japan, lasting approximately six minutes. The nearest major city to the quake was Sendai, on the main island of Honshu, 130 km away. The quake occurred 373 km from Tokyo. The main earthquake was preceded by a number of large foreshocks, and hundreds of aftershocks were reported. United States of Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt explained that aftershocks follow Omori’s Law, might continue for years, and will taper off in time.

One minute before the earthquake was felt in Tokyo, the Earthquake Early Warning system, which includes more than 1,000 seismometers in Japan, sent out warnings of impending strong shaking to millions. The early warning is beloved by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) to have saved many lives.

Initially reported as 7.9 Mw by the USGS, the magnitude was quickly upgraded to 8.8, then again to 8.9, and then finally to 9.0.

The earthquake in Japan 2011 at a glance :

Date                            14:46:23, 11 March 2001

Duration                    6 minutes

Magnitude                 9.0 Mw

Depth                         32 km

Epicenter                   38.3220N

Location                    38.3220N 142.3690E

Type                           Mega thrust earthquake

Countries                   Japan

Regional affected     Pacific Rim

Total damage            Tsunami wave, flooding, landslides, fires, building and infrastructure damage, nuclear incidents including radiation releases

Peak ground              2.99g


Tsunami                     Yes (10+ meters)

Landslides                 Yes

Foreshocks                7+ (4+ above 6.0 Mw)

Aftershocks               1021+ (63+ above 6.0 Mw)

Tsunami in Japan :

The earthquake which was caused by 5 to 8 meters upthrust on 180-km wide seabed at 60 km offshore from the east coast of Tohoku resulted in a major tsunami which brought destruction along the Pacific coastline of Japan’s northern islands and resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and devastated entire towns. The tsunami propagated across the Pacific, and warnings were issued and evacuations earned out. In many countries bordering the Pacific, including the entire Pacific coast of North and South America from Alaska to Chile, however, while the tsunami was felt in many of these places, it caused only relatively minor effects. Chile’s section of Pacific coast is one of the furthest from Japan, at about 17,000 km (11,000 mi) away, but still was struck by tsunami waves 2 m (6.6 ft) high. A wave height of 37.9 meters (124 ft) was estimated at Taro, lwate.

On 13 March 2011, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) published details of tsunami observations recorded around the coastline of Japan following the earthquake. These observations included tsunami maximum readings of over 6 m (9.8 ft) at the following locations and times on 11 March 2011, following the earthquake at 14:46 JST:

  • 15:12 JST – Iwate Kamaishi-oki – 6.8 m (22 ft)
  • 15:15 JST – Qfunato – 3.2 m (10 ft) or higher
  • 15:20 JST – Ishinomaki-shi Ayukawa – 3.3 m (11 ft) or higher
  • 15:21 JST – Miyako – 4.0 m (13.1 ft) or higher
  • 15:21 JST – Kamaishi – 4.1 m (13 ft) or higher
  • 15:44 JST – Erimo-cho Shoya – 3.5 m (11 ft)
  • 15:50 JST – Soma – 7.3 m (24 ft) or higher
  • 16:52 JST – Oarai – 4.2 m (14 ft)

These readings were obtained from recording stations maintained by the JMA around the coastline of Japan.

Earthquake and Tsunami in Worldwide :

The earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, 11 March, 2011 is the most destructive in the history. By this Tsunami it was seen that about 10 feet height swelling of water over flowed many areas of Japan. Some country near Pacific ocean were also over flowed. A short history of ten most powerful earthquake after 1900 is presented here. Most of them created Tsunami and the result was a lot of destruction.

 31st January, 1906 :

Ecuador and Columbia earthquake and Tsunami was 8.8 magnitude and around 1000 people were dead. Middle Amercia, Sun Francisco and Japan were also faced it.

 4 November, 1952 :

Russia earthquake and Tsunami was 9.0 magnitude. It was spread upto HawaiIsland. But no one was injured or dead.

 9 March, 1957 :

Alaska had 8.6 magnitude earthquake. By this earthquake to the Umnak Island’s Visovidok volcano was opened after 200 years. On that time around 50 feet high Tsunami occurred in HawaiIsland.

 22 May, 1960 :

This earthquake was happened in Chili with 9.5 magnitude. 5 thousand people were dead and 20 lakh people lost their house.

 28 March, 1964 :

The US Alaska faced it with 9.2 magnitude. About 125 people were dead and destruction were about 31 crore dollar.

 4 February, 1965 :

Alaska had 8.7 magnitude earthquake and then a 35 feet height Tsunami attacked ShomiaIsland.

 26 December, 2004 :

A 9.1 magnitude attacked Indonesia Acheh province. As a result 2 lakh 26 thousand people were dead by Tsunami in Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and others 9 countries.

 28 March, 2005 :

8.7 magnitude was in Indonesia and 300 people were dead.

 27 February, 2010 :

Chili had 8.8 earthquake and about 5 hundred peoples were dead and about a destruction of 3 crore dollar was occurred.

 11 March, 2011 :

North-East Japan had 8.9 magnitude earthquake and as a result 10 meter height Tsunami occurred. Besides Japan, Philippine, Taiwan, Indonesia, Columbia and Rome were alerted for Tsunami and earthquake.

 Damage and effect :

The degree and extent of damage caused by the earthquake and resulting tsunami were enormous, with most of the damage being caused by the tsunami. These damage and effect are given below-

Nuclear power plants :

The Fukushima I, Fukushima II, Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant and Tokai nuclear power stations, consisting of a total eleven reactors, were automatically shut down following the earthquake. Higashidori, also on the northeast coast, was already shut down for a periodic inspection. Cooling is needed to remove decay heat after a reactor has been shut down, and to maintain spent fuel pools. The backup cooling process is powered by emergency diesel generators at the plants and at Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant. At Fukushima I and II tsunami waves overtopped seawalls and destroyed diesel backup power systems, leading to severe problems at Fukushima I, including three large explosions and radioactive leakage. Over 200,000 people were evacuated.

The April 7 aftershock caused the loss of external power to Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant and Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant but backup generators were functional. Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant lost 3 of 4 external power lines and lost cooling function for as much as 80 minutes. A spill of a couple liters of radioactive water occurred at Onagawa.

Ports :

All of Japan’s ports were briefly closed after the earthquake, though the ones in Tokyo Wind southwards soon re-opened. Fifteen ports were located in the disaster zone. The north-eastern ports of Hachinohe, Sendai, Ishinomaki and Onahama were destroyed. Japan’s ninth-largest container port at Kashima were also affected though less severely.

Dam failure :

The Fujinuma irrigation dam in Sukagawa ruptured, causing flooding and washing away homes. Eight people were missing and four bodies were discovered by the morning.

Water :

In the immediate aftermath of the calamity, at least 1.5 million households were reported to have lost access to water supplies. By 21 March 2011, this number fell to 1.04 million.

Electricity :

According to Tohoku Electric Power (TEP), around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity. By 21 March, 2011, the number of household in the north without electricity fell to 242,927.

Oil, gas and coal :

An analyst estimates that consumption of various types of oil may increase by as much as 300,00 barrels per day (as well as LNG), as back-up power plants burning fossil fuels try to compensate for the loss of 11 GW of Japan’s nuclear power capacity.

Transport :

Japan’s transport network suffered severe disruptions. Many sections of Tohoku Expressway serving northern Japan were damaged. The expressway did not reopen to general public use until 24 March, 2011. All railway services were suspended in Tokyo.

Telecommunications :

Cellular and landline phone service suffered major disruptions in the affected area. On the day of the quake, American broadcaster NPR was unable to reach anyone in Sendai with working phone or Internet.

Space center :

JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) evacuated the TsukubaSpaceCenter in Tsukuba, Ibaraki. The center, which houses a control room for part of the international space station, has been shut down, with some damage reported.

Socio-economic impact of earthquake and tsunami :

Social impact :

The social impact of earthquake is the effect of peoples life and society. The 2011 earthquake and Tsunami’s social impact are given here-

  • The earthquake caused a large number of displaced people. People should be left from districted area to secured area the number of evacuees has once passed 3,00,000. By the recent earthquake not only Japan but also some area of Philippine, Taiwan, Indonesia, Columbia and Peru were also be threatened and peoples had to be displaced.
  • Some earthquake survivors died in the shelters or in the process of evacuation. About 20,000 peoples were died by the earthquake and Tsunami and a lot of are injured.
  • Many shelters struggle to feed evacuees but there is no enough foods and properties. The evacuees or alive or injured are suffered for foods lacking. At the late March some were given one meal a day.
  • There are not sufficient medical equipments. Japanese who faced earthquake and Tsunami are now suffering for proper treatment.
  • Fuel shortage hampered relief actions. Relief are arrived shortly. There is no enough relief for the suffer. Because of fuel shortage and weather conditions.
  • Water supplies is not sufficient. All waters are polluted. There are not enough pure drinking water. The salination caused it. Salination is adding salt water to fresh water. The Tsunami mixed salt water to fresh water by over flowed the country like river side areas, underground, lakes and wells. Killing the animal with in the contaminating water supply.
  • The gas system was damaged. So destructed Japanese felt the gas problem. The mitten gas is necessary for cooking, where it was lacked for earthquake and Tsunami. The oil and coal are like gas crises. All hampers the social life.
  • The Electricity is needed for social sectors. Where the wreckage Japan has felt the lacking of electricity. Which hampers the normal life where Japan was electrically developed country. By the earthquake and Tsunami about 5 lakh people were deprived from electricity.
  • There is a need for temporary housing, as the Japan government are trying to remove evacuees from large shelters, where there have been reporting of poor sanitary conditions.
  • The Japanese are considered as a well developed nation. Now they faced great consequences of a natural disasters, which broken down their social structure and social conditions.

Economic impact :

It is still too early to tell what the full impact of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and growing nuclear crisis on Japan’s infrastructure, industrial base, and economic growth will be—let alone the broader global impacts. Nevertheless, past natural disasters and disruptive events (the Kobe earthquake of 1995, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005) give us some idea of the likely economic effects (and timeline) of this horrific event. The economic impacts of these events are typically large for a quarter or two after the event, and are mostly concentrated in the region of the disaster. After about two quarters, however, growth is boosted by the reconstruction effort. At the national level, the impact on economic growth is usually noticeable but small (a few tenths of a percent). In the case of Japan’s most recent calamity, given the damage to the electricity power generation capacity, the impact on economic growth could be greater.

The following is IHS Global Insight’s preliminary analysis of the impact on Japan-

  • The scene of devastation along Japan’s northeastern coastline is staggering, and it is believed that despite the country’s preparedness efforts, tens of thousands lost their lives.
  • Although the physical destruction largely occurred away from Japan’s industrial core, considerable near-term macroeconomic disruption should be anticipated. Aside from the impact on the workforce, supply chains are affected, power may be rationed, and government finances will be stretched.
  • The near-term impact on Japanese growth is likely to be negative and potentially quite large. However, by the end of this year, the reconstruction effort is likely to get under way and provide a substantial boost to growth.
  • The big uncertainty about this disaster (and what sets it apart from other such disasters) is that roughly 10% of electricity generation capacity (both nuclear and coal) may be offline for a few months, until oil- and gas-fired plants can ramp up. In the near term, this could have major negative ramifications for Japanese industrial sectors; some steel and automotive factories have already been closed.
  • In an attempt to forestall financial panic, the Bank of Japan has already pumped about $250 billion worth of liquidity into the Japanese economy.
  • Meanwhile, the fiscal cost of this disaster to Japan has been conservatively estimated at $200 billion. Despite concerns about Japan’s already-high debt levels, financial markets are likely to take a benign view of the Japanese government’s reconstruction spending.
  • Based on very crude and preliminary estimates, IHS Global Insight estimates that Japanese real GDP growth could be cut by 0.2-0.5 percentage point this year and boosted by 0.5-1.0 percentage point next year. If the nuclear crisis turns into a full-blown catastrophe, then the negative effect on growth this year will be much larger.
  • The massive Japanese earthquake has raised the chances of a fiscal crisis in the world’s third largest economy and could affect countries around the globe.
  • Europe’s need to reduce dependence on oil, gas and coal mean its multi-billion-dollar nuclear new-build plans are unlikely to be hurt by Japan’s nuclear crisis but after a huge earthquake.
  • The share market was break down. The Tuesday 15 March, 2011 after earthquake and Tsunami the share broken down about 10.55% and then the next day Wednesday it was less priced about 68%. After 2008 economical destruction there was not such like price less in the history.
  • The bank of Japan was obligated to make entered about 28 trillion Yen in currency market.
  • By the lacking and want of electricity many motor industries reduced their production.
  • The nuclear power plants were closed and for this reasons the Japan economy was destructed. Because these power plants are their major potential for economy.
  • The ports were destructed that why the exports and imports were closed and hampered the economy of Japan.

Impact on Bangladesh of Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan:

For the destruction of Japan’s economy Bangladesh also faced some problems. Japan-Bangladesh both have a friendly relation. Now the impact on Bangladesh is described bellow-

  • By the earthquake and Tsunami Bangladesh wanted to displace its embassy from Tokyo to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. For this reason Japanese felt anxiety and expressed regret on Bangladesh government.
  • Japan gives help large amount of money and donation to Bangladesh for the development activities. Japan promised to donate money to Bangladesh for the construction of PadmaBridge which will be delayed or cancelled.
  • Japan gives loan and donation to Bangladesh in food and garments product which is stopped now and that is hampered Bangladesh economy.
  • Bangladesh-Japan main relation is export and import products. Its created a friendly relation between them. But now for the destruction of Japan by earthquake and Tsunami this export and import is stopped. So Bangladesh is temporarily lost a big facility.
  • Japan market is one of the good sector for Bangladesh economy which helps Bangladesh for economic growth.
  • Many Bangladeshi labor are worked in Japan and Bangladesh gets a healthy amount of foreign currency. But by this time it is become small amount for earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.

After Math :

Environmental Impact :

  • Some potential long term effects of any natural disaster is usually the pollution that is emitted in the clean up and the pollution that is found when man-made products are left astray. After the 9/11 disaster the computer products left after the disaster caused trouble in the respiratory tract of the firelighters that came to the rescue in the area.
  • With large disasters like the Japan earthquake you have large sources of pollution in batteries, plastics, heavy metals, and do forth. Something I found interesting is how a lot of nuclear facilities shut down to prevent any more environmental disaster and as we are erecting more and more nuclear facilities, a natural disaster can cause a nuclear disaster really quick. A nuclear malfunction from a natural disaster occurring can cause a large amounts of long-term concern.
  • When earthquakes occur, a common effect is the outbreak of fires in buildings due to structural damage and gas leakage. Fire can cause all kinds of pollution (as cesmith 110 implied). However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in Japan’s 8.9 earthquake, since Japan’s building codes are so strict (which undoubtedly saved lives.  It may cause lasting environmental damage according to some experts. Although this is not an effect caused by this specific earthquake, the seawalls wouldn’t be necessary if Japan weren’t earthquake-prone. It’s unknown whether these seawalls actually helped save lives during the quake.
  • If they are unable to continue powering the cooling towers in the Fukushima nuclear tower plant, there is a very real possibility of a nuclear meltdown. As we saw with the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island and with the total meltdown at Chernobyl, the ramifications of such a disaster are catastrophic.

World Economy :

  • The good news/bad news is that Japan has not been an engine of global or Asian growth for some time. This means the impact of much lower Japanese growth on the world economy probably will be limited and small.
  • The major transmission mechanisms of the earthquake and tsunami on the rest of the world will be via trade flows; however, since Japan’s exports and imports are a relatively small share of GDP, the economic shock waves will be weak.
  • Given the disruptions in Japanese industrial activity, the impact on global supply chains could also be significant. This is especially important in industries such as autos, telecommunications, and consumer electronics.
  • Nevertheless, the global impact on this event may not be all negative. Lower Japanese growth could also lower world energy demand and prices, albeit temporarily.
  • Disruptions in Japanese automotive and steel production may result in a boost in the demand for these products from other sources, including the rest of Asia, the United States, and Europe.

Concluding Remark :

The Japan is now a wreckage area. But it is not a fact if Japan economy run properly at last 2 weeks- then the economy of Japan will have the proper step to solve the whole crises and rebuild the destructed Japan. The earthquake and Tsunami are regular natural disaster in Japan. They are used to face it. But the recent disaster is really became a threat for Japan social-economic sector. Japan’s economy would be rebuild and then become developed as before, with holds more than 10% of world economy by come back to its track.

References :

  1. JAPAN : A Country Study- R.E Dolan and R.L Worden
  2. The wikipedia and the free encyclopedia of 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami
  3. The “Prothom Alo”- 12 March, 2011, 13 March, 2011, 16 March, 2011, 19 March, 2011
  4. The Daily Star- March 12, 2011, March 13, 2011, March 15, 2011
  5. Noya Bissho Bebostha O Antorjartik Rajnitee- Tareq Shamsur Rehman