• Do more with your content!Discover PreventionWeb Services
  • 'This is not a "what if" story': Tokyo braces for the earthquake of a century

    Email sent!

    An email has been sent to the email addresses provided, with a link to this content.

    Thank you for sharing!


'This is not a "what if" story': Tokyo braces for the earthquake of a century

Source(s):  Guardian, the (UK)

By Daniel Hurst


The last great quake to hit Tokyo was in 1923. Experts estimate the next one is due roughly a century on, with an estimated 70% chance of a magnitude-7 quake hitting Tokyo before 2050. It is no longer a question of if but when the big one will come.

The impact would be devastating. According to an official estimate, a magnitude-7.3 quake striking northern Tokyo Bay could kill 9,700 people and injure almost 150,000. There would be an expected peak of 3.39 million evacuees the day after the disaster, with a further 5.2 million stranded, while more than 300,000 buildings could be destroyed by the earthquake itself or the ensuing fires.


Tokyo has come a long way since 1923. If any city is prepared for an earthquake, it is this one. The hi-tech skyscrapers are designed to sway, the parks feature hidden emergency toilets and benches that turn into cooking stoves, and the city has the world’s largest fire brigade, specifically trained to prevent the kind of flash blazes that spread after earthquakes.

But the problem with earthquakes is that they undermine the very things you do to prevent them. And with Tokyo now seeing millions of tourists a year, and expecting millions more for the Rugby World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2020, the city is ripe for panic in the event of a disaster.


“In the event of a big earthquake here … there would be significant damage to critical infrastructure such as electricity, gas, water,” [Robin Takashi Lewis, a Tokyo-based specialist in disaster preparedness and response,] says. After a major quake, the Tokyo metropolitan government says it aims to restore power within a week, water supply in a month and gas within two months. “When you have a city this big and your basic lifelines are out, that’s a very significant problem.”


Add this content to your collection!

Enter an existing tag to add this content to one or more of your current collections. To start a new collection, enter a new tag below.

See My collections to name and share your collection
Back to search results to find more content to tag

Log in to add your tags
  • Publication date 12 Jun 2019

Please note:Content is displayed as last posted by a PreventionWeb community member or editor. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of UNDRR PreventionWeb, or its sponsors. See our terms of use