Our country is experiencing one of the greatest disasters in recent history. Two earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 in Kahramanmarash caused great destruction in 10 of our cities, killing thousands of our people. Trapped under the rubble, thousands of our citizens race against time to be rescued. The traces of this great catastrophe and the pain it caused are still very fresh. Only 5 days have passed since the earthquake. However, many experts argue that Turkey has been an earthquake-prone country for many years. In other words, science says that our country will face many earthquakes in the future. That is why we must remember that we are a country of earthquakes, recognize that earthquakes are part of our lives, and, more importantly, be prepared. But how? What can we do to avoid the destructive earthquakes that can occur in our geography? At this point, it may be helpful to look at Japan, which is one of the most earthquake-resistant and prepared countries in the world.
Japan is one of the countries with the highest natural disaster risk in the world.
It ranks 155th out of 173 countries on the “disaster risk map”. In other words, Japan is one of the countries with the highest natural disaster risk. 20 percent of earthquakes of magnitude 6 and above occur in Japan. Situated at the intersection of 3 different tectonic plates, the country experiences over 1,000 earthquakes every year. However, many of these earthquakes, some of which can be considered serious, are not even reported in the country.
Since Japan meets the requirements of an earthquake prone country, it is prepared for earthquakes that can cause great destruction. Accordingly, it is shown as one of the countries that can be taken as an example in relation to earthquakes. So how does Japan prepare for an earthquake?
More than 100,000 people are known to have died in the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Tokyo in 1923. After this great destruction, Japan begins to take the reality of the earthquake more seriously and work to eliminate the devastating effects of the earthquake.
However, due to the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the city of Kobe in 1995, Japan is once again experiencing great destruction. The earthquake, which toppled thousands of buildings, collapsed roads and infrastructure, injured more than 400,000 people and unfortunately killed 6,400 people. After this terrible disaster, Japan decides to reconsider its earthquake plan. Because Japan, an earthquake country like Turkey, knows that in the future it will again face devastating earthquakes, and that the real killer is not an earthquake, but negligence.
After the 1995 Kobe earthquake, a serious period of “earthquake readiness” began in Japan.
What’s happening? After the earthquake in Kobe, all earthquake rules in the country are being revised. New laws and regulations are being prepared to make homes safe in the country. High-rise buildings are built in such a way that they sway, not shake in the event of an earthquake, and are safe. Local administrations are instructed and checked to check the houses of citizens for earthquake resistance!
Because the country is known to be the scene of devastating tsunamis after major earthquakes, tsunami-proof shelters are being built along coastlines. Again, the coastlines are equipped with embankments built against flooding. When earthquakes exceed a certain strength, systems are activated that automatically stop the operation of nuclear power plants.
In 2011, Japan was once again shaken by a powerful earthquake.
The magnitude 9 earthquake that struck the Tohoku area on March 11, 2011 again caused great destruction. The terrible earthquake also triggered one of the largest tsunamis in history. Giant waves, whose height was 40 meters, accelerated up to 500 kilometers and hit the shore.
Japan lost more than 20,000 citizens due to the natural disaster, which was recorded as “the largest earthquake to hit the country”. Making great efforts to prepare for the earthquake, Japan took all possible precautions, but again found itself helpless. However, this great disaster caused an important change in mentality in Japan.
The country continued to resolutely take measures to eliminate the consequences of the earthquake. However, there have been significant changes in the perception of disasters by governments and researchers.
After the earthquake, the notion that “completely eliminate the consequences of natural disasters” in the country gave way to efforts to “take the necessary measures to live with the disaster.” On the one hand, technical and structural preparations continued. On the other hand, practices were applied that made the “reality of earthquakes” a part of everyday life.
In Japan, “the cities that were destroyed by the earthquake turned into cities that lived by the earthquake.”
For example, some buildings that were damaged by the earthquake were turned into symbols and left as is. In this way, it was ensured that the reality of the earthquake always remained fresh in the memory. Based on photographs taken during the disaster and objects collected from the wreckage, various museums have been established. Thus, the earthquake became a part of everyday life, in the memory of people affected by natural disasters, future generations, cities and all of Japan.
On top of all these practices, September 1st was declared “Disaster Prevention Day” and the first week of September was declared “Disaster Prevention Week” so as not to forget the great catastrophe of 1923. The third week of January was declared Disaster Relief Volunteer Week. All of these practices have greatly contributed to the awareness of the Japanese about natural disasters and thus to the survival of thousands of people.
Although there is currently a very strong earthquake in Japan, due to the measures taken, significant damage has not occurred. In fact, these earthquakes don’t even deserve national coverage.
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