Home page logo
/

interesting-people logo Interesting People mailing list archives

Southern Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 1995 22:14:09 -0500

Date: Wed, 18 Jan 1995 12:12:52 +0900
To: farber () central cis upenn edu (David Farber)
From: anderson () glocom ac jp (Stephen J. Anderson)
Cc: ajp () izanagi glocom ac jp


         TOKYO, Japan - The South Hyogo earthquake in western Japan which
struck at 5:46 AM JST on January 17, 1995, was the worst such disaster in
Japan since1948 and caused unexpected deaths and destruction.  The
following summary on the emergency from the Inforum Project at GLOCOM in
Japan is compiled after one day of local reporting from journalist and
academic sources as well as local contacts.
         The Tuesday quake measured 7.2 on the Richter scale and 6 on the
Japanese scale that peaks at 7.  The epicenter was12.5 miles under the
island of Awaji in the Inland Sea off the coast from Kobe, but the worst
destruction ran along a northeastern line on the coast up from the Kobe
port to the Takarazuka area closer to Osaka.  Osaka, as Japan's second
largest city, and Kyoto and Shiga, further to the northeast with extensive
museums and temples, also reported extensive damage from the quake.
        In Japan, all observers are shocked by the death and destruction.
The National Police Agency reported over1900 confirmed deaths, and over 800
missing among the victims.  The total dead and missing (about 2700) make
this quake the worst since the June 28,1948 quake in Fukui Prefecture that
killed 3895 according to the Asahi Nenkan.   The total dead and missing is
not as great as the1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that killed over one hundred
forty-two thousand people, but the extent of damage is great.  Note that
the wire services carried glaring errors in their historical data on
previous quakes, but the point is correct that this is a major disaster.
Within Japan, the media did not always agree on details, but overall the
journalists were highly professional as they covered uncontrolled fires,
derailed trains, and collapsed expressways in extra-edition newspapers and
during all night coverage on television.
        Among the media coverage, television was by far the leading source
for current information.  Public television on NHK was careful, and tended
to underestimate deaths and missing.  Yet the expert commentary on NHK was
frank, self-critical, and precise as much of the material from Kobe
including helicopter shots meant that NHK gave the most comprehensive
coverage.  However, private stations also broadcast alternative coverage
that gave images of utter destruction and scenes resembling war zones.   A
lasting image came from a local TV newscaster who grew up in Kobe and
walked among the downtown ruins that left him, at one point, speechless and
at the point of tears.
        Japanese citizens are especially distraught by the failures of
prevention and warning.  The wire services made Associated Press filed an
accurate story about the population's loss of faith in technology.
Compared to Los Angeles in 1994 and San Francisco in 1989, Kobe and its
population of 1.4 million people suffered far more extensive damage.  No
block of city was spared some destruction with many buildings leaning on
their foundation.  Many professors of engineering and construction experts
are making statements to the press and on television about their
miscalculations.  The collapse of elevated expressways and railway bridges
will take much time to rebuild, and the homeless in smaller wooden
dwellings and larger high rises will need immediate shelter from
near-freezing temperatures.   Many local people are bitter that the Tokyo
area received attention and warnings, but no such forecast was ever made
for this southern Hyogo quake.
        Specialists have lost confidence in their forecasts about location
and construction for earthquakes.  Severe quakes have hit northern Japan as
well as Kobe, but none have occurred near Shizuoka or Tokyo where quake
experts predicted.  Also, engineers who looked at Japanese standards as the
highest in the world must now reassess their ideas about bridges, roads,
and buildings.  In the U.S., Los Angeles and San Francisco officials
emulated Japanese building standards said to protect against 8.3 magnitude
quakes of the 1923 Kanto scale, but they must now reconsider the extent of
damage to Kobe-area expressways and railroads.  At the moment, Japanese
officials are skeptical about creating economically viable standards that
can withstand a quake such as yesterday.  Such standards allowed Kobe to
create two large developments on landfill, but these areas suffered broken
surfaces, flooding, and sludge or mud holes where their buildings sank into
the bay.
        Politicians and civil servants moved to reassure the population.
The Prime Minister,  Tomiichi Murayama, was quoted by wire services as
focusing on minimizing the damages, while waiting to blame or to analyze
all the causes.  The Land Agency moved to provide disaster relief and local
governments lent supplies.  Local TV in Tokyo area covered a fleet of
Yokohama city water trucks as they left to drive to the west.  Though
preparations were extensive, an estimate 100,000 people spent the
near-freezing (zero Celsius) night in parks, automobiles, schools, or
public buildings.
        The shaking and aftershocks continue.  The initial shaking of about
20 seconds and several weaker quakes continue to hit the region.  Experts
estimate that restoring the basic services of electricity (one week), water
(two weeks) and gas (one month) will keep life from normal.  Construction
of transportation and buildings will of course take much longer.
        The financial damage is extensive but difficult to determine.
Estimates range from $10 to $30 billion, but the exact estimates and impact
are curious.  In Tokyo, insurance company stocks are down, but
construction, concrete, and glass stocks are up.  Damage in Osaka closed
Japan's second-largest stock market and the Kansai area will face major
disruptions.  Of course,  Kobe as a port, export-hub, shipbuilding and
steel-manufacturing center, as well as a historic international city,
accounts for 12 percent of Japan's exports.  The damages to this area, and
its people, will likely leave a major mark not just on the economy, but
also on the future of Japanese society as a whole




filed by Stephen J. Anderson (anderson () glocom ac jp)


Inforum Project Director
The Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM)
Associate Professor
International University of Japan (IUJ)


Please consult the home page (URL http://www.glocom.ac.jp/) for more
information about the Center with lists of staff, activities, publications,
and especially our efforts at links to interesting resources.  The staff of
our project also invites your comments and questions, and look forward to
hearing from you by email (inforum () glocom ac jp), fax, or letter.


The Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM) is the leading Japanese
research center and think tank about the Internet and global information
highway. As a combination of academic center (daigaku hojin) and applied
research institute (close cooperation with business enterprises), the
Center provides a setting unique in Japan because its facilities allow both
theoretical and applied research.


As the INTERNET leaders in Japan, the Center does policy research on Japan
and the Internet.  Within the Center, Inforum project staff are designing a
home page to help people get around on the Internet, and link others to
information about Japan.  These activities are among the specific steps
that we engage in to pursue knowledge and disseminate research about the
rapid development of the Internet and Global information infrastructure.



For more information, write to:


Stephen J. Anderson (anderson () glocom ac jp)


Inforum Project Director
The Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM)
Associate Professor
International University of Japan (IUJ)
Fax:  (81-3) 5412-7111, Phone:  (81-3) 5411-6677
1F, 6-15-21 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106 JAPAN


  By Date           By Thread  

Current thread:
  • Southern Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake David Farber (Jan 18)
[ Nmap | Sec Tools | Mailing Lists | Site News | About/Contact | Advertising | Privacy ]