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Massive Earthquake Hits Japan’s Hokkaido

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit Hokkaido on September 6th, 2018, turning the lives of thousands of people into total chaos and resulting in the deaths of 41 people.

Unexpected Disasters in Hokkaido

Villages in Hokkaido Hit by the Massive Earthquake (koreatimes.co.kr)

Shortly after it was hit by heavy rains from Typhoon Jebi, which was the strongest storm to hit the country in 25 years, a powerful quake struck Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. It has had a tremendous impact on the residents, and the landscape. The death toll from the earthquake has risen to 41, with an estimated 660 people injured. When the earthquake struck, the power to the main city of Sapporo was cut, and nearly three million households had to suffer without electricity. What is worse, since Hokkaido Island hosts a lot of both active and dormant volcanoes, some experts say that deposits of volcanic soil became so water-logged that they caused several landslides, killing dozens of residents after the quake.

Recent Concerns over the Effect of the Earthquake
Even though Japan is famous for its preparedness for natural disasters like earthquakes or tsunamis, the chaos that the quake has caused shows that the country is still lacking in some aspects. First, some newspapers including the Mainichi Shimbun, which is one of Japan’s major newspapers, pointed out that it shows how dangerous the electricity-dependent society can be. Because of the unprecedented blackout after the earthquake, residents could do nothing but wait until the power was restored. Although the Japanese government called on businesses and residents in Hokkaido to use 20% less energy to avoid further blackouts, some experts say that Japan might face huge economic losses without the proper measures for blackouts due to natural disasters. Moreover, it has turned out that information available for foreign visitors during disasters is not enough in Japan. For example, around 4,000 Korean tourists who had visited Hokkaido were stranded by the earthquake without proper information about transport disruptions. Some experts warn that since Japan is located on the “Ring of Fire” arc, it means that it is at a higher risk of powerful earthquakes, and therefore, the Japanese government needs to provide proper information for tourists during natural disasters.

김효진  theweeknd@skku.edu

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