Japan is haunted by the specter of the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake that occurred under the sea off its northeastern coast in March 2011, which led to a tsunami that claimed 18,500 people dead or missing.
A strong earthquake hit areas in central Japan on Friday, forcing the authorities to suspend high-speed trains for a short period, but without an immediate warning of a possible tsunami. The 6.5-magnitude earthquake occurred at 14:42 (05:42 GMT) at a depth of 12 kilometers, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Express trains between Nagano and Kanazawa, a popular tourist area, were halted, according to Japan Railways, and resumed less than two hours later. There were no confirmed reports of injuries or damage. Friday is an official holiday in Japan as part of what is known as “Golden Week” when a large number of people travel for entertainment or visit relatives.
The earthquake measured 6 on the Japanese Shindo scale of 7 in Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture, which means it could trigger major landslides.
The American Institute of Geophysics estimated the earthquake’s strength at 6.2 degrees, saying that it struck close to the coast, but the Japanese Meteorological Agency determined its epicenter on land.
Japan is constantly exposed to earthquakes due to its location in the “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific Ocean, which is experiencing high seismic activity. This region extends from Southeast Asia to the Pacific basin.
However, Japan applies very strict building standards to ensure that buildings can withstand a strong earthquake, and often conducts emergency drills associated with a major earthquake.
A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck a fishing village on the Noto Peninsula located in the same area in 2007, injuring hundreds of people and damaging more than 200 buildings.
The Noto Peninsula is a rural area on the coast of the Sea of Japan, famous for its beautiful scenery and seafood. It has a population of approximately 340,000 people, according to the 2015 census.
Japan is haunted by the specter of the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake that occurred under the sea off its northeastern coast in March 2011, which led to a tsunami that left 18,500 people dead or missing.
The tsunami in 2011 also resulted in the destruction of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima facility, causing the worst nuclear disaster in the post-war history of this country, and the most serious nuclear accident in the world since Chernobyl.
Government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno confirmed to reporters that no abnormal signs had been detected in the Shiga and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facilities as a result of Friday’s earthquake. “We expect a change in sea level, but there is no danger of a tsunami,” Matsuno said.
In turn, Kenji Satake, a professor at the Institute of Earthquake Research at the University of Tokyo, told public network NHK that the aftershocks are expected to last for a week, probably, adding that “the Noto region has witnessed significant seismic activity in recent years.”
In March of last year, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake, centered off the coast of Fukushima, struck large areas of eastern Japan, killing a number of people. Tokyo, the capital, was severely damaged by a devastating earthquake in 1923.