It’s been five years today since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake – I’m sure most of you remember it. It was a huge earthquake, one of the World’s strongest since records began. Below is a video clip giving, in my opinion, a good (but scary!) illustration as to how strong the earthquake was. The clip shows seismic activity in and around Japan in 2011, smallish earthquakes taking place daily (as they do over here). However, on the 11th March (around 1min 50sec mark into the clip) it all kicks off. If you watch it, make sure you have the volume on, as the strength of the earthquake is represented not only visually, but also in audio form.
I will not attempt to write about the 2011 earthquake, the aftermath, the current state of people who experienced it or Japan’s earthquake/tsunami defences post 2011, since there are thousands of people who are much better suited to write about it than me. You can probably find information and first-hand descriptions of the incident in your national (or even local) paper today, should you want to remind yourself what happened on that day when over 18 000 people lost their lives and when thousands of people lost their loved ones, homes and livelihoods. And maybe you – like me and millions of Japanese people – will spend a few moments today thinking about that day five years ago and the people whose lives that day ended or changed forever.
Back in 2011 we didn’t live in Japan, we had little general interest in Japan and we didn’t then know that one day we would live in that country, known for its bad earthquakes. A couple of years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I was offered a job in Osaka and we were considering a move to Japan. We were concerned not only about the nuclear disaster that followed the 2011 earthquake, but also that something similar to that earthquake might be repeated while we live in Japan. I assume this is something that most foreigners – in particular those who come to Japan with children – are likely to think about, at least occasionally. We decided to move to Japan regardless of the possibility of a big earthquake(s), but to be prepared for an occurrence of one, and hope for the best (you can read my earlier blog post as to how we prepare for earthquakes here).