Tuesday, 12 February 2013

2011 Japanese Tsunami

Off the east coast of the northern part of Honshu. (Main Island of Japan.) Epicentre 72km from the coastline near the city of Sendai. The Pacific plate, which moves at a rate of 8 to 9 cm per year, dips under Honshu's underlying plate releasing large amounts of energy. This motion pulls the upper plate down until the stress builds up enough to cause a seismic event

March 11 2011 - the main period of shaking lasted 6 minutes. It hit at 14:46 local time or (05:46 GMT)

How strong?

Magnitude 9.00 on the Richter scale – Japan’s most powerful since records began. There have been over 600 aftershocks, the largest of which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. The energy released was 600 times more than the Hiroshima bomb and would power Los Angeles for a year.

Tsunami consisted of 10 waves each a kilometre apart which became a giant wall of water by the time it hit the coast, and in places it was 15m high, topping the 10m high walls


The Pacific plate subducting under the North American plate. The North American plate was thrust upwards displacing part of the Pacific Ocean above it.

Primary effects?

·         There were very few deaths reported from being crushed in collapsed buildings.
·         15,883 deaths, 6,145 injured, and 2,671 people missing - 14,308 drowned, 667 were crushed to death or died from internal injuries, and 145 perished from burns
·          4.4 million households in northeastern Japan were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water
·         Most buildings have earthquake resistant design and stood up well to the initial shaking
·         There were immediate problems with electricity and water supplies in Northern Japan. 1.5 million people were without water immediately after the earthquake and 4.4 million people without electricity. 
·         Northern Japan's transport network suffered severe disruption. Many sections of Tōhoku Expressway serving northern Japan were damaged.
·         Undersea cables were damaged causing disruption to telecommunication networks.
Secondary effects?

·         A dam in NE Japan failed sweeping away homes and killing 8 people.
·         Over 300 000 people were evacuees and need new housing.
·         shortages of food, water, shelter, medicine and fuel for survivors and as of late March, some were given one meal a day
·         Fuel shortages hampered relief action
·         Residents of Tokyo were reported to have gone on panic shopping sprees as daily necessities were sought after and gasoline was stocked up
·         Jobs lost 
·         19 foreigners died
·         100,000 children were uprooted from their homes and 236 children were orphaned
·         reports of sexual assaults actually fell 35.7 percent to 81 cases
·         531,000 non-Japanese residing in Japan departed the country
·         Mental Trauma as many lost homes, livelihoods, with whole communities being swept away, some up to a millennia old
·         Major economic impact in Japan. (See below)
·         industrial production suspended in many factories
·         129,225 buildings totally collapsed
·         heavy damage to roads and railways as well as fires in many areas, and a dam collaps
·         90% of the 29,000 fishing boats in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima prefectures were rendered unusable
·         total damage to Japan's fishing industry was estimated at ¥1.26 trillion
·          Toyota, Nissan and Honda, which completely suspended auto production until 14 March 2011 with other companies like Nippon Steel Corporation , Toyo Tire & Rubber Company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries and  GS Yuasa
·         51 reported cases of scams or frauds related to the disaster, with losses amounting to around ¥12.6 million
·         The factory shutdowns, power cuts and the consequent presumed impact on consumer confidence could hurt the national GDP for several months
·         i ncreased job availability during restoration efforts
·         Japan's economy accelerated substantially through the next two years, at more than its former rate
·         reconstruction of damaged areas in Tōhoku beginning in 2011 produced a boom in construction jobs and business in the area
·         644 companies in Japan had been forced into bankruptcy by the disaster
·         Silicon wafer production has been suspended at factories owned by Shin-Etsu Chemical
 and MEMC Electronic Materials, which together account for 25% of the global silicon wafer production which in turn impacted semiconductor production
·         The tsunami generated by the earthquake (max 40.5 m high) was devastating to northern Japan and caused most of the deaths and destruction.
·         Many towns and villages along the northern coast were entirely swept away.  Many major north-eastern ports were destroyed including Sendai. 
·         Nuclear power plants along the coast have been damaged. It is thought that the 4 reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power station will be permanently shut down as the damage cannot be repaired and the reactors brought safely under control. The local area has been evacuated and there are widespread concerns about radiation leaks
·         23,600 hectares of farmland, mostly rice paddies, were damaged by the tsunami with salt from the wave potentially affecting the crops for years to come
·         4.37 million chickens in northeast Japan died and 3%–4% of Japan's rice production were in the affected areas

·         prospect of a long-term health and environmental hazard in need of an expensive cleanup

Cost to Japan?

Cost of rebuilding which has been estimated at ¥25 trillion or $300 billion.  The northern Tōhoku region, which was most affected, accounts for about 8% of the country's gross domestic product, with factories that manufacture many products. Major Corporations such as Toyota, Sony, Nissan and Honda suspended production. (Now producing again.)

Japan's real gross domestic product contracted 3.7% for the quarter of January to March 2011

·         Prime Minister Naoto Kan mobilized the Japan Self-Defence Forces, many 1000s of soldiers helped search for survivors and continue to help displaced people.
·         many countries sent search and rescue teams to help search for survivors
·         lack of disorder immediately following the earthquake but by 20 March 2011 250 thefts had been reported
·         The yakuza (a japanese gang) opened their offices to refugees and sent dozens of trucks with supplies to affected areas
·         Displaced people are being housed in temporary shelters and being provided with food and water.
·         8,800 temporary units were planned in Iwate, 10,000 in Miyagi, and 19,000 in Fukushima and 88% of the required temporary housing had been built by the end of July 2011
·         Voluntary reduced electricity use by consumers in the Kanto area helped reduce the predicted frequency and duration of blackouts
·         The tsunami warning system is being looked into to see if more warning can be given especially in smaller coastal villages. ‘Tsunami walls’ need to be higher.
·         Rebuilding programmes are being planned and restrictions may be placed on how close you can build to the coastline and/or the design of buildings.
·         The vast quantity of data collected during the event (Japan is the leading country for earthquake research) is being analysed to see if there can be better predictions and warning the next time.
·         Japan said they would ask for any specialist help but did not need lots of charitable financial help.
·         128 countries and 33 international organizations had offered assistance to Japan who specifically requested teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States
·         Requested the activation of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, giving diverse satellite imagery of affected regions
·          Japanese Red Cross reported $1 billion in donations
·         Twenty-thousand US military personnel, including 19 naval vessels and 120 aircraft, were mobilized to provide assistance or move supplies to the disaster area
·         the Bank of Japan, in an attempt to maintain market stability, injected 15 trillion yen into the money markets to assure financial stability amid a plunge in stocks and surge in credit risk and set up an emergency task force to ensure liquidity in the aftermath of the disaster
·         By the end of July 2011, 47 percent of the 22.63 million tons of debris in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures had been removed,  73.7% of farming businesses affected by the quake and tsunami in eight prefectures had resumed operations while 35.5% of fishing entities had returned to business
·         The government in Japan committed to cleaning up the damage from the disaster
·         The Japanese yen soared against most major currencies following the earthquake, and reached a post-World War II high of 76.25 yen to the US dollar on speculation that Japanese investors would repatriate assets to pay for rebuilding, but as Japan relies on exports this dampened the economy, leading to the G7 selling yen against the dollar
·         The government set up an advisory panel of intellectual figures on 14 April 2011, named the Reconstruction Design Council
·         Many seaside communities in Japan have reexamined their tsunami defenses and reaction plans in response to the disaster
·         Japanese media reported in 2012 that up to 25% of special funds allocated by the government for disaster recovery and relief were being used outside the disaster area on projects unrelated to the earthquake and tsunami such as nuclear research
·         Social buying sites have launched on-line campaigns in which several million dollars were raised for relief organizations working in Japan
·         By 9:30 UTC on 11 March, Google Person Finder, which was previously used in the Haitian, Chilean, and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes, was collecting information about survivors and their locations
Cost to the world?
·         The Nikkei stock market fell as did other Asian stock markets.
·          the German DAX lost 1.2% within minutes whereas Major U.S. stock market indexes rose between 0.5% and 0.7%
·         Oil prices also dropped as a result of the closure of Japanese refineries
·         The share prices of the biggest reinsurance companies Munich Re and Swiss Reinsurance Company fell, losing around 10 billion
·         The share price of major insurance companies fell as big payouts are expected. ($10 billion.)
·         The reputation of the nuclear industry has been badly damaged at a time when many governments worldwide were thinking it could be a possible solution to fossil fuels running out. Gas prices have risen as Japan starts buying gas to compensate for the loss of nuclear power.
·         significant setback for the so-called nuclear renaissance with an anti-nuclear demonstration of 50,000 people in Stuttgart and the cancellation of a pro-nuclear press conference in the United Kingdom

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