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Japan 2011 Tsunami Analysis Report

1. Describe the physical geography of the region and why it makes Japan prone to such
devastating natural events.
Some factors that make Japan prone to these devastating natural events are: the proximity of
Japan to major earthquake faults, specifically the Pacific Rim which is very active, the coasts are
also very close to sea level.
2. Evaluate Japan’s overall level of preparedness for the tsunami hazard of the region and
discuss the successes and failures of the country to predict the 2011 Tohoku tsunami.
Japan actually had a very high level of preparedness. They had an advanced early warning
system, a very elaborate tsunami seawall defense, and a very well-informed and vigilant
population. Due to these preparations that were already in place there was a 96% survival rate
once the tsunami had receded. I think one of the biggest failures was with their nuclear plant. I
do not believe that they had prepared it to withstand the 9.0 earthquake and also many of their
“fail safes” failed and our 2nd largest nuclear disaster was a direct result of this oversight.
3. Analyze the factors that led the scientific community and the general population of Japan
to underestimate the tsunami risk presented by an event like the one that struck in 2011.
While Japan is very prepared for tsunamis they are not very well prepared for large scale high
magnitude earthquakes. Many in the scientific community were very shocked and surprised that
an earthquake of this magnitude struck in this region. Also they were not prepared for a tsunami
wave that large. Because they we well prepared for tsunamis they underestimated the risk and
destruction a large magnitude earthquake and large tsunami wave could actually do.
4. Describe how the 2011 tsunami is linked to other hazards. What are the temporal and
spatial aspects of these hazards?
Tsunamis share a distinct link with earthquakes. It takes an earthquake occurrence in a
subduction zone to create a tsunami. Tsunamis also cause extensive flooding. These floods can
also trigger landslides.
5. Explain how and why the 2011 tsunami became a much worse catastrophe due to human
error before and following the event.
This event went from a disaster to a catastrophe because of the nuclear plant that they had built
right along the coast line that is affected by tsunamis. They may have been prepared for tsunamis
but not for the earthquake that preceded it, which along with the tsunami caused significant
damage to the nuclear power plant. The “fail safes” that were in place also failed causing the 2nd
largest nuclear disaster in the world.

6. Discuss Japan’s successes and failures to minimize the effects of the 2011 tsunami. How
might Japan and its population better minimize the consequences of future events?
Because of Japan’s high level of preparedness there was a 96% survival rate of the tsunami. They
had taken many precautions and preparations. Elaborate seawall tsunami defenses, a state-of-theart early warning system, and perhaps the most important a well-educated and vigilant
population. One thing I think that Japan should consider is placing residential areas a little
further from the coast; they were very prepared for the tsunami but not as well prepared for the
9.0 magnitude earthquake. They need to work on high magnitude earthquake preparedness.