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Land and Resources, Earthquakes

Philippine plate, Great Kanto Earthquake, Eurasian plate, North American plate, Pacific plate

Japan lies in a zone of extreme geological instability, where four tectonic plates—the Pacific plate, the Eurasian plate, the North American plate, and the Philippine plate—come together. As the plates push against one another, they cause violent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. As many as 1,500 earthquakes occur in Japan each year. While most of these are minor and cause no damage, typically several of them rattle buildings enough to cause dishes to break and goods to topple from shelves. Occasionally earthquakes are severe enough to cause widespread property damage and loss of life. Japan’s largest earthquakes in the 20th century have been the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, in which more than 140,000 people died in the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolis, and the 1995 earthquake in Kobe that killed more than 6,400 people. The Kobe quake also caused massive damage to buildings, highways, and other infrastructure in Kobe and its vicinity. An earthquake centered offshore may cause a potentially deadly ocean wave called a tsunami. Earthquakes pose such danger to the country that Japan has become a world leader in earthquake prediction, earthquake-proof construction techniques, and disaster preparedness by both civil defense forces and the general public.

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Philippine plate, Great Kanto Earthquake, Eurasian plate, North American plate, Pacific plate, earthquake prediction, tectonic plates, volcanic eruptions, massive damage, tsunami, disaster preparedness, vicinity, shelves, highways, danger, dishes, world leader, goods, century, buildings, general public, infrastructure, country, people, year, loss of life


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