Japanese Reaction to the Great East Japan Earthquake: Surviving Disaster Through a United Community
On March 11th, 2011 at 2:46PM, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Sendai, Japan. One of the strongest to ever hit the country, it is now known as the Great East Japan Earthquake. A mere half-hour later, the area was struck by a huge tsunami, which caused the nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan to malfunction and emit amounts of radiation. The results were terrible for Japan. As of October 12th, 2011, 15,822 are dead, 5,942 are injured, and 3,897 are missing. Nearly 66,000 evacuated the area} Over 375 miles away in a small temple in Nara, for me, the quake was barely noticeable, just a dizzy feeling and the slight sway of the hanging light overhead. Someone mentioned that it must be an earthquake, and my friend and I brushed it off. Japan is one of the most quake-ridden countries on Earth, as four tectonic plates converge near the islands. Slight earthquake movements occur every day. It was not until we saw the news later that evening that we discovered the severity of the disaster. As the disaster unfolded, the international community was fascinated by the manner in which the people in Japan responded; the world saw the Japanese as strikingly quick, efficient and patient. This paper will address why the Japanese responded as well as they did, and how they were affected on both an individual and group level. First I will describe current theory on how people respond to disaster. Second, I will explain the characteristics that influence how people respond to a disaster and explore the nature of the Japanese people with respect to these characteristics. Finally, I will review how each phase of the Great East Japan Earthquake unfolded and explore the response of the Japanese people as individuals and a community.