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Great Kanto earthquake

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Great Kanto Earthquake
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Great Kanto Earthquake
The Great Kanto Earthquake (関東大震災 Kantō daishinsai) struck the Kanto plain on the Japanese main island of Honshu at 11:58 on the morning of September 1, 1923. The quake was later estimated to have had a magnitude between 7.9 and 8.3 on the Richter scale. It destroyed the Japanese port city of Yokohama as well as surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, and Tokyo.

According to most reliable sources, at least 105,385 lost their lives and over 37,000 were reported missing, believed dead. Most of the fatalities were caused by 88 fires which broke out separately and spread rapidly due to high winds from a typhoon near the Noto peninsula. In several places, firestorms were observed - the largest of which claimed at least 30,000 lives at Rikugun Honjo Hifukusho. As the earthquake had caused water mains to break, putting out the fires took nearly two full days until late in the morning of September 3.

Over 570,000 homes were destroyed, leaving an estimated 1.9 million homeless or refugees. The damage is estimated to have exceeded one billion U.S. dollars at contemporary values.

The chaos and panic created by the earthquake led to rumours of Koreans looting and committing arson. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Koreans and people from Okinawa were killed by civilian militias. The total death toll for Koreans including those killed by the disaster was estimated at around 6,000. In many places, check points were established to check whether travellers were looters or merely trespassers. Socialists like Hirasawa Keishichi and anarchists like Osugi Sakae and Ito Noe were killed because of the fear that they would use this opportunity to overthrow the government.

After the earthquake, Goto Shinpei organized a reconstruction plan of Tokyo with modern networks of roads, trains, and public services. Parks were placed all over Tokyo to work as a refugee spots and public buildings were constructed with more strict standards than private buildings to accommodate refugees. However, the outbreak of World War II and the subsequent destruction severely limited resources. In some places, construction is still ongoing today.

In 1960, September 1 was designated as Disaster Prevention Day to commemorate the earthquake and remind people of the importance of preparation, as September and October are the middle of the typhoon season. Public and private organizations host disaster drills. Tokyo is located near a fault line under Izu peninsula which, on average, causes a major earthquake about once every 70 years.

External links

de:Groes Kanto-Erdbeben

ja: 関東大震災zh:關東大震災

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