About the Magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan

by Jun Murai, the founder

Thank you for many warm messages to all of us in Japan including to myself.
Two days have passed. In Tokyo I still feel many strong afterquakes.
In addition to them, some other serious risks still are in progress such as the nuclear power plant damages.

The Earthquake and Tunami:

It was certainly the biggest one in Japan’s history. Japan is ‘thhe earthquake country’. We pride ourselves in good preparation against earthquakes, from the point of view of architecture design and regulations, and from the point of view of disaster drill as a part of our education system and readiness at home. Therefore, the houses, buildings and constructions such as highways were relatively safe.

But the Tsunami of this size was not expected. It caused the most of the damages and loss of lives.

People:

Official report at this point (3:00 UTC/ 12:00JST March 13) says that people found dead are 689 and 639 missing. But some of the regions in the northern areas are completely isolated. Therefore several reports of visual findings of 200-300 dead bodies have not been counted into the official announcement. We are expecting thousands or far more number of losses at the end.

Tens of thousands of disaster victims have evacuated to safe places such as school gyms and public halls. It is in many cases difficult to deliver food and water to them because the transportation lifelines will not be recovered for some time. But please note that their urgent need at this moment is reliable information on the safety of their family.

Communication and the Internet:

When the first earthquake of M9.0 (the original Magnitude announced was M8.8 but they modified it officially) happened at 5:46 UTC/14:46 JST, I was in Hiyoshi campus of KEIO Univ. in Yokohama city. Soon all the electric power in the city went down in Kanagawa area (therefore, no signal lights in the street). The fixed line phone and mobile became busy.

I found that most of the 3G data connectivity have been working even though their 3G voice communication was not available (probably because of the controlled restrictions by the operators).

Therefore, the means of communication for those people to confirm their family’s safety, which as I mentioned is what they most wanted, were provided by emails, twitter and SNSes through 3G data communication. Other information of the earthquake also been accessed by WEB.

I have received many emails afterwards, saying ‘thanks to the Internet’ in the face of this situation. Some of the Japanese mobile phones are equipped with terrestrial TV broadcast receiver in a device. This function called ‘one-segment TV’ has been said as ‘unnecessary function’ to make Japanese mobile market isolated, but this time it worked very nicely to get the TV news broadcasting with the power failure status.

From Monday:

Electric companies will start operation of three hour regional rotation of scheduled power down to cruise the power around to damaged areas. Out network operation will use UPS and other emergency power equipments to minimize the down time.

To friends:

Thank you very much again for the warm messages from all over the world. The messages and friendship have encouraged all of us enormously at this time of predicament. We will do our best to make an as soon recovery as possible from this disaster, working together with students, researchers, industries and governments.

With sincere appreciations,

March 13th, 2011
Jun Murai
Dean and Professor, faculty of Environment an Information KEIO University
Founder, WIDE project

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