A Japanese government panel on Tuesday (April 21) warned that tsunami as high as 30 meters could hit Hokkaido in northern part of the country and Iwate in the northeast if a magnitude 9 earthquake occurs along sea trenches off the Pacific coast of Japan.
The panel issued the warning based on a worst-case scenario and expressed fear that a earthquake centered around the Japan Trench and the Kuril Trench off northern parts of the country could be “imminent.”
It is to be noted that the panel admitted that it is not easy to calculate the probability of the occurence of such an earthquake but stressed that the region has witnessed massive tsunami every 300 to 400 years and the last one was observed in the 17th century.
The Japan Trench extends from waters off the coast of Hokkaido to the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. The Kuril Trench stretches from the sea off Tokachi on the northernmost main island of Japan to the Kuril Islands in Far East near Russia.
In 2011, Japan was hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which caused the death of over 15,000 people in the country, mostly in northeastern part of the country. The government panel has predicted that the earthquakes in future would be centered around waters off Sanriku and Hidaka as well as the sea off Tokachi and Nemuro.
Seismologist Kenji Satake, a University of Tokyo professor and head of the panel, told Japan Times that a massive earthquake and tsunami would definitely hit the region.
“A massive earthquake of this class (shown in the simulation) would be difficult to deal with by developing hard infrastructure (such as coast levees). To save people’s lives, the basic policy would be evacuation,” Satake said.