- May 2011: Vol. 23 No. 5

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Global Implications: Triple Disasters in Japan Will Have Far-Reaching Effects

by Jennifer Molloy

On March 11, 2011, skyscrapers in Tokyo did exactly what they were built to do — sway to reduce damage during major earthquakes and ensuing aftershocks, and to avoid tremendous loss of life in the densely populated city, which accounts for 40 percent of Japan’s GDP.

Despite major disruptions to Tokyo’s transportation system in the immediate aftermath of the powerful 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Sendai, 230 miles away, the bustling financial center of the world’s third-largest economy remained virtually unscathed, while rail and (elevated) highways were shut down in this commuter culture to avert potential additional problems from the many anticipated aftershocks.

This was not the case on Sept. 1, 1923, when a 7.9 magnitude quake hit the Kanto plain, leveling Tokyo and killing upward of 140,000 people. The lessons learned from that tragic event spurred the Japanese people to come back bigger and stronger, with some of world’s most dili

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