Natural Disasters in Japan: Earthquakes, Tsunami and Typhoons

Japan is often hit by natural disasters and environmental hazards, due to the country’s location in Asia and in the Ring of Fire on the Pacific Ocean. The most frequent events are:

  • Thousands of earthquakes each year, of various intensity;
  • Numerous typhoons, strong winds and heavy rain pouring each year in summer until mid-October;
  • Heat waves, cause of dozens of deaths each summer.

And occasionally:

  • Tsunami, often a consequence of earthquakes;
  • Volcanic eruptions.

Fortunately, Japanese architecture uses state-of-the-art anti-seismic construction techniques, and very strict prevention standards usually help protect from most of natural disasters. As for volcanic activity, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is constantly monitoring 47 volcanoes out of the 110 actives ones known in Japan, such as Mount Fuji and Hakone.

Recent Natural Disasters in Japan

  • The Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011, the biggest registered in the country’s history (magnitude 8,9 on Richter Scale). The gigantic tsunami that ensued devastated Tohoku’s region coasts and killed about 20,000, and whereabouts are still unknown for 2,500 persons;
  • Heavy rains in July 2018, that caused floods and landslides in Western Japan (Hiroshima, Okayama, Kurashiki and in several countryside areas), and more than 200 deaths and dozens of missing persons;
  • The sudden eruption of Mount Ontake, the second highest volcano in Japan, killed more than 60 hikers in September 2014
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