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Japan’s Long-Term Recovery After the 2011 Tsunami

Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2011 in its eastern region. A few minutes later, there followed a massive tsunami which was approximately 100-foot waves. The earthquake claimed over 100 lives, but the severity of the matter was when the tsunami spiked where over 20,000 people were reported to have died from the incident (Syamsidik & Suppasri, 2018). More than 130,000 buildings were struck, and the economic crisis was reported to fall by $360 billion in Japan (Syamsidik & Suppasri, 2018). Japan recovered gradually and still does; the tragic incident has not yet been forgotten. Japan still faces challenges in recovering from the tsunami, with many after-action reviews of the recovery phase indicating several things (Williams et al., 2020). The purpose of this discussion is to present the major challenges which Japan has faced while recovering from the incident.

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Several site planning strategies should have been conducted to prevent the negative effects of the tsunami in Japan. First, avoiding inundation areas by building premises away from the hazard area by locating in a high zone would have helped. Secondly, through environmental agencies, the government would have slowed water by boosting forests, ditches, and slopes that would have enabled slow waves, hence filtering out the debris (Valenzuela et al., 2019). Third, water steering by strategically using angled walls would have reduced robust waves’ impact. Lastly, blocking by hardening walls and terraces would reduce the tsunami waves in any strike.

The existing mitigation controls did not perform well because the instrumentation systems that were placed to sense earthquakes did not effectively detect the possible massive strike. Japan had built sea walls in some parts but needed to apply the idea in all coastal regions, so the plan did not work perfectly (Williams et al., 2020). At that time, people were only enlightened about the earthquake’s possible occurrences but not a tsunami; thus, there was low preparation, which led to a massive strike by the disaster and worsened its consequences. Japan at that time boasted of slowing the movement of water and the formation of delicate slopes by thickening the forest. However, there was a need to combine engineering and construction ideas which would have prevented the entire outcome.

New appropriate mitigation measures have been applied to fasten recovery because Japan has recycled and incinerated all the debris that occurred during the tsunami. Infrastructure has been boosted with modern buildings being built with absorbers and sensors which use current microservices monitored by modern computer programs. The recovery strategy has worked effectively since 2011; there have been low-risk earthquake strikes cases (Williams et al., 2020). Modern buildings and structures have been preventing gradual fast water movement with debris and slope formation effectively blocked. The country has employed intensive protection and educational programs which provide insights into Japan’s tsunami issues.

Japan has followed the recovery strategies from the tsunami by a reconstruction which emphasizes several layers of defense against earthquake activities for regions in the country as Kirikiri. Seawalls and dykes have been hugely applied as hard countermeasures for the plan (Williams et al., 2020). From the results, the Japanese engineering bodies are heavily monitoring the level of qualitative construction from the base, edge, and top of structures in all the regions. Two-level tsunami concept which includes level one and two have offered protection and education programs for a possible strike in the country (Syamsidik & Suppasri, 2018). The application of multilayers and preventive safety concepts has been evident in hilly areas and is key in preventing debris, slopes, and fast water movement.


Syamsidik, & Suppasri, A. (2018). Tsunami recovery processes after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Lessons learned and challenges. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 29, 1-2.

Valenzuela, V., Samarasekara, R., Kularathna, A., Perez, G., Norikazu, F., & Crichton, R. et al. (2019). Comparative analysis of tsunami recovery strategies in small communities in Japan and Chile. Geosciences, 9(1), 26-42.

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Williams, J., Wilson, T., Horspool, N., Paulik, R., Wotherspoon, L., Lane, E., & Hughes, M. (2020). Assessing transportation vulnerability to tsunamis: Utilizing post-event field data from the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami, Japan, and the 2015 Illapel tsunami, Chile. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 20(2), 451-470.

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