Crisis Management of Tohoku; Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, 11 March 2011

Article excerpt

Abstract

The huge earthquake in 11 March 2012 which followed by a destructive tsunami in Japan was largest recorded earthquake in the history. Japan is pioneer in disaster management, especially earthquakes. How this developed country faced this disaster, which had significant worldwide effects? The humanitarian behavior of the Japanese people amazingly wondered the word's media, meanwhile the management of government and authorities showed some deficiencies. The impact of the disaster is followed up after the event and the different impacts are tried to be analyzed in different sectors. The situation one year after Japan 2011 earthquake and Tsunami is overviewed. The reason of Japanese plans failure was the scale of tsunami, having higher waves than what was assumed, especially in the design of the Nuclear Power Plant. Japanese authorities considered economic benefits more than safety and moral factors exacerbate the situation. Major lessons to be learnt are 1) the effectiveness of disaster management should be restudied in all hazardous countries; 2) the importance of the high-Tech early-warning systems in reducing risk; 3) Reconsidering of extreme values expected/possible hazard and risk levels is necessary; 4) Morality and might be taken as an important factor in disaster management; 5) Sustainable development should be taken as the basis for reconstruction after disaster.

Keywords: Japan, Earthquake, Tsunami, Disaster, Crisis Management, Fukushima

Introduction

The magnitude 9.0 Japan's Tohoku Earthquake occurred at 14:46 local time on Friday, 11 March 2011, 125 km east coast of Honshu and 380 km far from Tokyo and rattled the large parts of Japan and some part of east China and Russia with 30 km depth of the hypocenter (1). This earthquake that lasted approximately 3 minutes (170 seconds) caused a 130 km long by 159 km wide rupture zone on the pacific plate subduction zone and followed by a huge tsunami with more than 40 meter waves. The destructive aftermaths of this incident made an irreparable disaster not only for the Japan, but also for the whole world because except for the enormous death toll and debris, the damages of nuclear power plants were a hazardous unexpected tragedy.

Casualties and damages

According to the report of the Japanese National Police Agency, 15854 dead, 3167 missing and 26992 injured across twenty prefectures are the result of this devastating earthquake and tsunami which ruined more than 125000 buildings. Moreover, it caused long blackouts for more than 4.4 million buildings and left1.5 million buildings out of water for days (2), also large fires were triggered one after another even for weeks after the main quake. Explosion and demolition of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (Fukushima Daiichi), which generated radioactive contamination near the plant's area with irreversible damages to the environment, was one the most significant issues of this catastrophe and ranked 7 (the most sever level for nuclear power plant) based on the International Nuclear Event Scale, similar to the Chernobyl disaster on 26 April 1986 (3). Therefore, it is not strange to consider to this earthquake as the most important destructive seismic event of the beginning of the twenty first century in the advanced industrial world.

Losses intensified by hit of the tsunami as the statistics shows it was more fatal (Fig. 1) and also more buildings destroyed by its strike; However, the quake was the main cause of the partial damage of buildings (4). Figure 2 manifests the building losses distribution through affected areas and Fig. 3 reveals the relative impact of the earthquake vs. tsunami in each prefecture of Japan (4).

Seismology and Seismic History

This mega thrust earthquake is categorized as a great earthquake with the magnitude more than 8 in scientific seismological classification (5). Over 1000 aftershocks, some of which were larger than the recent catastrophic earthquakes in Iran such as Bam, Iran 2003, hit the area since the main shock. …