Natural disasters in Japan - statistics & facts

In Japan, natural disasters occur frequently. Since the archipelago is situated along the Ring of Fire, an area where several tectonic plates meet, it is vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Many people are reported missing or killed by natural disasters every year. Therefore, the Japanese government invests its disaster prevention budget in disaster prevention systems such as earthquake alert systems, emergency facilities, evacuation centers, as well as earthquake-resistant buildings, which are designed to move with the quake. Furthermore, participation in natural disaster drills is common and begins in kindergarten.

 Natural disasters in Japan 

In recent years, typhoons accounted for the highest costs of damaged facilities. Typhoons regularly hit Japan and often cause heavy rain and floods. The tropical cyclones develop over the Pacific Ocean and are likely to approach the archipelago between July and October, during the peak of the typhoon season. Japan's southernmost prefecture Okinawa gets hit regularly by typhoons, while the northernmost prefecture Hokkaido is the least affected area. Since the number of typhoons increased in recent years, the amount of damage caused by floods grew as well.
There are over 100 active volcanoes situated on the archipelago, which account for around ten percent of active volcanoes worldwide. Mount Fuji, which last erupted in 1707, is the tallest and most famous volcano in Japan. The volcano Sakurajima erupts several hundred times a year, representing one of the most active volcanoes in the country. In addition to intense volcanic activity, major earthquakes occur regularly, making the country vulnerable to tsunamis due to its oceanic setting.

 The triple disaster in 2011 

The highest cost of damage caused by natural disasters was recorded in 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake, also referred to as Tohoku Earthquake, occurred. It was one of the strongest earthquakes worldwide according to measurements on the Richter scale. The damage caused by surging water from the resulting tsunami was more destructive than the earthquake itself, as it destroyed many Japanese cities and led to the death of over 15 thousand people. Furthermore, it caused a meltdown at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture.  

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