Ruminations on Japan.

Japan has taken the 5th largest earthquake ever recorded in the 20th &21st Centuries.

What is truly amazing is that the vast majority of the buildings survived the earthquake pretty well intact.  It was the tsunami that did for them subsequently.  When you compare the whole event with the debacle of Haiti and Indonesia and the relevant death tolls of both of those events  one has to have nothing but admiration for their civil engineering, stoicism and self control.  Had Christchurch received the ‘benefit’ of an 8.9, theirs was only 6.2, I doubt a brick would have been left standing in the city.  Seemingly the only other country that appears to have anywhere near the survival rate of structures is Chile.

It is a salutary lesson for the West Coast of the USA, we too live on a spot of the planet with identical geography and geology to the subduction zone off Japan and is known for similar events.  The last one here of any serious size (7+), happened 300 years ago and is now overdue!  I do not think that we shall survive anywhere near as well as Japan, maybe with luck we might do about the same as Chile, but not holding my breath!  Only the very most modern buildings will survive, retro fitting old buildings goes very slowly in the cities and domestic houses here are death traps, wouldn’t last five minutes, especially those built on concrete rafts.  These ripple up and down like shaking a carpet out the back door and any building on them is reduced to matchsticks, they might make a 5+ but forget up in the 8s, you’re dead and buried literally!  Here too, like Indonesia, people win the Darwin award by going to the beach to see the tsunami arrive, (fortunately they drowned, unfortunately after they bred)  The Japanese population drill and train for tsunami, I couldn’t see the West coast evacuating itself in 20 minutes flat that is for sure!  I am excessively glad that I took all this into account before ‘we’ (I) selected an area in which to live,  15 miles inland against a non volcanic outlying mountain (not too near) away from the Nooksack valley and its associated lahars ( a serious outside risk!) and no faults within 4 miles.  It took me 3 months hard research to find this location.  This week I am excessively glad I took the trouble.

What seriously troubles me is that Japan ever built so many cities on that side of their islands in the first place.  The place is notorious, it shimmies all the time, that is why their original houses were built with paper walls and 4 tree trunks at the corners, planted very deep, good building even then.  So why allow such development now?  Plus nuclear power plants!  The Californians are just as daft and now having conniptions about them.  Fancy too rebuilding San Francisco exactly on the same spot! They could all have developed their cities and power plants in parts that were not so susceptible but chose not to.  Makes absolutely no sense to me at all!

Interesting article in the DT about no looting in Japan, need one ask why?  I think not!  They do not have the ‘blessings’ of a multicultural society.  Remind me never to have the idiocy of being caught in a major West Coast city during an earthquake.  I’m more concerned about the citizenry than I am the earth below my feet, just look at Haiti over a year later, still a total debacle after millions of aid has been poured in there.

Just ruminating.  Not really a lot to be done about Armageddon turning up on your doorstep.  I suppose one could move, one could be bored and frozen to death in Minnesota say, or be beleaguered in Brum.  I think I’d rather take my chances with an earthquake.

Author: christinaosborne

Landed on one side safely.

5 thoughts on “Ruminations on Japan.”

  1. Interesting comments, Christina. I can’t see many of our lot evacuating anywhere in 20 minutes flat either. Although I have to say that there was precious little looting during the floods here – perhaps it was the TV announcements that ‘looting’ carries an enormous penalty combined with a fairly heavy law enforcement presence!

    I’ve never understood why people continue to build in places known to be susceptible to ‘natural’ disasters either.

  2. ‘I’ve never understood why people continue to build in places known to be susceptible to ‘natural’ disasters either.’

    I learnt my lesson the hard way on this one many years ago. During the ‘vicissitudes’ I rented a house in the Towy valley. It had been built in the 1700s and had the remains of byres and barns, a delightful property. It never occurred to me that the place would flood! Who after all would build a house and farmyard that flooded? Subsequent to that they built the railway on an embankment right up the Towy valley, the Heart of Wales line now, sometime in the mid 1800s, very carefully on a nice embankment to keep it dry. Unfortunately there was no provision made for flood water to go under the embankment thus any flood water was penned in on the river side and all those properties that were that side flooded regularly thereafter, mine included!
    Got ‘had’ 5 times one year alone to a depth of 18″ in the house. I was excessively glad that I had not bought it!!!
    After that I took great care to be far more enquiring about property, especially when I was putting my hand in my pocket big time. I have a huge list of no nos, won’t even bother to go and view.
    Once bitten twice shy. There are whole swathes of WA State that I won’t even visit for one reason or another let alone contemplate living in. Seattle being my chief ‘bete noir’.
    Interestingly the Indians had this attitude too. The place where they had the highest tidal wave in the USA this time, Crescent City, northern CA is called in the local language ‘Not a good place to sleep!’ The Indians used to go and fish and collect berries but never slept or settled there. Tsunamis too damned often! No flies on the Indians when it comes to this type of thing.

  3. Boadicea: on the other side of Honshu they have the kami kaze, typhoons.
    There is also a much higher risk of land slides. Most of Japan’s land, about 3/4, is useless
    for living. That is why the Japanese have always built earthquake-resistant structures. Light wood and paper was used for most of Japan’s history for this reason — it could sway and move, but not crumble as easily. Even when it DID fall, the weight would not be enough to crush someone to death.

  4. Thanks for your interesting post, CO. I saw a documentary a while ago that suggested that the Yosemite complex of natural faults would let rip one day. Would you be safe from that?

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