Japan Earned Its Tsunami-Preparedness Badge


If this morning’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake had happened in any other densely populated country, the death toll might already number in the tens of thousands. But Japan’s growing number of casualties is still in the hundreds, although likely to rise to 1,000. Experts speculate that the potential for lives saved could be due in part to the world’s strictest building codes. Back in the eighties and nineties, Japan built concrete seawalls as high as 40 feet. Skyscrapers are built to sway in response to an earthquake rather than collapse. On CNN, Herman Fritz, a Georgia Tech professor, explained how fish markets are equipped with a platform for people to reach safety while the tsunami rushes underneath. Another crucial component is ample warning systems with footpaths and escape routes clearly marked. Unlike the tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004, Japanese citizens are subjected to regular drills and know not to linger near the coast. Hopefully, that will make a difference as the earthquake’s aftershocks continue.

Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives [NYT]