Earthquakes - 1. "Be aware of possible crisis on a regular basis" | Lectures for Foreign Students on Disaster Control | JPSS, the information site of studying in Japan

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"Be aware of possible crisis on a regular basis"

On March 11, 2011 at 2:46 p.m., a massive earthquake struck at the seabed of the waters off of Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures with a moment magnitude of 9.0 (with the maximum seismic intensity of 7), and the Tohoku region along with other parts of eastern Japan were heavily damaged in a large-scale disaster. Approximately 400,000 buildings were completely or partially destroyed, and the resulting tsunami and landslides claimed the lives of 18,524 people, and 400,000 were forced to evacuate the area.

In 2004 there was an earthquake in Niigata Prefecture, which also claimed many victims that were foreign students. What do you think about the following comments of students' who experienced the terrible disaster?

A student from Malaysia (who was a senior at Nagaoka University of Technology)

"(as an answer for the question that asked if he had enough knowledge of earthquakes) I had only learned from television that we protect ourselves by getting under a table or a desk when earthquakes occurs. However, I was in a panic so I couldn't remember such a guidance as this when it came."

A student from Thailand (who was also a senior at Nagaoka University of Technology)

"I guess that I totally got into a panic at the moment. Several strong quakes went on at intervals for a while, so we had been afraid for hours. My body was not injured, but mentally, anxiety didn't leave me even now."

A student from China (who was a junior at Nagaoka University)

"Glasses and dishes fell one after another before my eyes, and I didn't tell what happened at first. There was no one except three female staffs together, so we just threw ourselves on our knees screaming in terror." "What I need most for now is useful advices. I don't know well about earthquake and what to do when it strikes us all of sudden. It's terrifying not to prepare for situations of disasters."

(Interview articles from:"MONTHLY The Asia-no Tomo, December 2004")


Every comment stated above point out that they couldn't help getting into a panic at the critical moment. When rooms begin to sway, Japanese who are familiar with earthquakes promptly think of the possibility of earthquake. From their childhood they have plenty of experiences of quakes, various in scale, and got regular earthquake drills at schools. Because of that, when it turns out a real earthquake, the necessity to turn off the gas and secure escape routes instantaneously come to their mind.

Those who have hardly had earthquakes at their home countries, however, would not think of the possibility of the disasters when tremors strike them so that they can't figure out what happens at all and tend to be in a panic just as the students interviewed above did. In the case of the Chinese student, who didn't do anything except throwing herself down on her knees in a panic, it might have been a horrible accident if a fire had broke out around her or something heavy had fallen down on her.

It is no use without calm and reasonable mind even if you learn safety measures against earthquakes. So, how can we avoid losing our reasonable mind and stay in less panic?


The best way for that is to get used to earthquake itself, which means that you always remember that earthquake may strike us at any time in daily life. No need to fear more than necessary. All you need is experience, not knowledge, of how you feel and what you should do in case of earthquake.

So, how can you get familiar with earthquake exactly?

Obtain hands-on experiences of an earthquake.

The local governments offer disaster control centers, where you can experience the earthquakes artificially caused by shaking machines, have a try to extinguish fires using fire extinguishers, and get lectures on first aid such as artificial respiration and heart massage.

You are advised to visit these training centers at least once a year. It is of great importance to get used to disasters by feeling, touching, and having hands-on lessons.


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