The 2011 eastern Japan great earthquake disaster: Overview and comments

  • Okada Norio
  • Tao YeEmail author
  • Yoshio Kajitani
  • Peijun Shi
  • Hirokazu Tatano
Open Access


This article briefly reviews the causes and impacts of the massive eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, and comments on the response measures taken by Japan to cope with this devastating disaster. Mass losses occurred mostly because the intensity of the quake and the induced tsunami exceeded local coping capacity. Particularly, the nuclear power plant crisis triggered by the tsunami significantly increased the short- and long-term impacts of the disaster. While the coping capacity Japanese society built after the 1995 Hanshin-Awaji great earthquake tremendously mitigated the damages, there is room for improvement despite Japan’s great efforts in this disaster. Investigating the tsunami preparedness of the coastal nuclear power plants is an issue of paramount importance. In response to future large-scale disasters, there is an urgent need for a highly collaborative framework based on which all available resources could be mobilized; a mutual assistance and rescue system against catastrophes among regions and countries on the basis of international humanitarian aid; and further in-depth research on the multi-hazard and disaster-chain phenomenon in large-scale disasters and corresponding governance approaches.


2011 Eastern Japan Earthquake earthquake-tsunami disaster chain Fukushima nuclear crisis impact and response 


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© The Author(s) 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Okada Norio
    • 1
  • Tao Ye
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yoshio Kajitani
    • 1
  • Peijun Shi
    • 2
  • Hirokazu Tatano
    • 1
  1. 1.Disaster Prevention Research InstituteKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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