Epidemiology of Disasters in Japan
Japan is one of the leading countries in the world for natural disaster frequency. The country is prone to natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, typhoons, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. This country has experienced a lengthy history of natural disasters in the last 30 years that have continuously impacted the economy, growth and the Japanese social life (Nawata et al., 2011). The effects of these natural disasters to Japan have been detrimental because two of the disasters that have occurred in the recent past have been ranked among the five most expensive disasters in the world. However, the country is ranked as a leading host for the worst 10 natural disasters globally during the 21st century. Natural disasters have been responsible for the mass loss of life and destruction of property worth billions in the last 30 years. For example, two of its deadliest disasters between 1995-2011were estimated to cost about $181 billion (Nawata et al., 2011). This paper will focus on the comparison of three major disasters in Japan namely volcanic eruptions, typhoons and earthquakes.
A volcanic eruption is a natural disaster that takes place when the molten magma is forced to reach the surface of the earth. This disaster takes place in two ways as explosive or effusive with the latter occurring in a range of sizes from small to large eruptions. Japan has experienced a number of volcanic eruptions in the last 30 years that have negatively impacted on the life and economy of the country. Frequency of occurrence of volcanic eruptions in Japan is not severe, but it is leading in the world. Additionally, the high frequency of the volcanic eruptions is for smaller volcanoes while large ones are rarely experienced. A high frequency rate for volcanic activity in the country is due to presence of seismic faults from the Pacific Ocean. After a volcanic eruption, the surface is covered with volcanic ash that causes obstruction problems. For example, the Sakurajima volcano that erupted near the city of Kagoshima produced larva that covered about one kilometer of the earth’s surface. There are frequent volcanic activities in Japan due to its proximity to the fault lines that come from the Pacific Ocean. Although Japan has a high frequency for the volcanic activities, other countries in the continent like Indonesia have experienced major volcanic activities in the past 30 years.
Typhoons are deadly natural disasters because they occur in the form of storms that usually destroy large parts of the islands. Japan as an island is prone to major typhoon activities in the Asian continent. Occurrence of typhoons results in devastating destruction of property and human life that is estimated to be worth billions. During the last 30 years, Japan has recorded the highest frequency of typhoons in the Asian continent because it is an island country. The Bart typhoon is reported to be the biggest in the country in terms of its economic impact that was estimated to be $5 billion. However, the Ewiniar typhoon is leading in the number of deaths at about 141 people.
Earthquakes are a common natural disaster in the world that has caused a lot of economic and human catastrophe. They originate from vibrations experienced on the earth surface due to the breaking of rocks that are under stress. The rocks are forced to vibrate along the fault lines causing the earth vibrations that come in different magnitudes. When earthquakes occur, they lead to shaking of the earth that causes falling of buildings and loss of life to people. This natural is the leading cause of deaths across the globe because it occurs more frequently than other disasters. Japan has a long history of earthquakes and seismic activities in the last 30 years. Further, the most devastating earthquake in the world occurred in 2011 along the coast of Tohoku in Japan. It singly resulted in the death of approximately 15 881 people and is in history as the biggest earthquake in the world (Shimizutani, 2008). In the Asian continent, Japan is a leading country in the occurrence of this disaster during the last 30 years.
Japan has a high frequency of typhoons and earthquakes in the Asian continent, but has a lower occurrence rate of major volcanic eruptions in the world. Japan has a high occurrence rate of typhoons because it is an island, which is easily affected by storms. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean makes it prone to earthquakes and volcanic activities. Here, the pacific plates usually move rapidly resulting in high build up of energy (Shimizutani, 2008). This movement of the plates makes the seafloor to move upwards and also cause stress in the rocks (Nawata et al., 2011). As a result, earthquakes and typhoons are more frequent. Volcanic activities are rare in the country because major volcanic activities take millions of years to occur. In addition, earthquakes and typhoons account for the major economic and human deaths because they occur more frequently and destabilize the physical features that affect people directly. Further, the seismic fault lines in Asia are the major reasons why the occurrence rate of earthquakes and typhoons are very common in the region.
Nawata, K., Masako, I. & LEE, J. M. (2011). Did the Financial Crisis in Japan Affect Household Welfare Seriously? Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, 43 (2-3), 297-324.
Shimizutani, S. (2008). How do People Cope with Natural Disasters? Evidence from the Great Hanshin-Awaji (Kobe) Earthquake. Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, 40 (2-3), 463-488.