Staying Safe in Japan: A Guide for Tourists on Earthquake Preparedness and Response

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On January 1, 2024, a significant earthquake occurred in Ishikawa Prefecture, and tremors were also felt in Tokyo.

If you’re visiting Japan and encounter a natural disaster like an earthquake, here are some vital tips and information on how Japan is at the forefront of earthquake preparedness and response:

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What to Do During an Earthquake:

Drop, Cover, and Hold On

Immediately get under a table or another piece of sturdy furniture, cover your head and neck, and hold on until the shaking stops.

Stay Indoors

If indoors, stay away from windows, outside doors, walls, and anything that could fall.

If you’re outside, find a clear area away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and utility wires.

Follow Instructions

Listen to local authorities and follow any instructions provided. They’re well-trained in disaster response.

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After the Earthquake:

Check for Injuries

Ensure you and anyone with you are not injured.

First aid, if necessary, but do not move seriously injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger.

Evacuate if Needed

If the building is damaged, evacuate carefully, watching for weakened floors and walls.

Stay Informed

Use a battery-operated radio or your phone (if it’s safe to do so) to listen to the latest emergency information.

Be Prepared for Aftershocks

These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent but can be strong enough to do additional damage.

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Japan’s Advanced Earthquake Preparedness:

Early Warning Systems

Japan has one of the world’s most advanced earthquake early warning systems, providing precious seconds or even minutes of warning before strong shaking starts.

Strict Building Codes

Japan’s building codes ensure that structures can withstand considerable shaking. Many older buildings have been retrofitted to meet these standards.

Regular Drills and Education

Frequent drills and public education campaigns ensure that everyone knows what to do when an earthquake strikes.

Innovation in Technology

Japan continually invests in new technology to improve earthquake resistance and response, including base isolators under buildings, advanced sea walls, and automated systems to shut down trains and factories when an earthquake is detected.

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Useful Resources for Tourists:

NERV App or NERV Twitter

Real-Time Earthquake, Tsunami & Typhoon Info for Japan

NHK World News

NHK is Japan’s public broadcasting station, and also broadcasts the latest information in foreign languages.

Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)

Offers real-time information on earthquakes and other weather-related incidents.

Local Embassies/Consulates

Keep contact information handy in case you need assistance.

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While earthquakes are a reality in Japan, the country’s advanced preparedness and your awareness can significantly reduce the risks.

Stay calm, stay informed, and follow the guidelines provided to ensure your safety during your visit.


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