Around the world, climatic anomalies have been observed for many years. What is to be expected in Japan this year? Earthquakes are the greatest concern for the Japanese, and many anticipate large scale, M8 class earthquakes in the Tokai and Nankai regions.
Masakazu Otake, former chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction, Japan, which is organized under the Geographical Survey Institute, says: “The Tokai Earthquake is an ocean-trench earthquake that occurs due to sinking at the plate boundary. The magnitude 6.5 earthquake that originated in Suruga Bay last August generated within the plate, and it is possible that this caused a further subduction worth 10 years.”
Regarding inland earthquakes, which are most difficult to predict, he also warns, “The Great Hanshin Earthquake and Chuetsu Earthquake, both of which were epicentral, hit an area known as the ‘Niigata Kobe Strain Concentration Zone.’ The prefectural boundary between Niigata and Nagano has not experienced earthquakes in some time, and therefore should be considered a high-risk area.”
In relation to earthquakes is the concern over volcanic eruptions. Director Yoshimitsu Okada of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, an independent administrative agency, explains that the series of earthquakes which hit Izu in December of 2008 were volcanic, and caused by movement of the magma. A volcanic eruption in the Izu area is possible if this continues.” Keeping an eye on Mount Omuro and Komuro, both active volcanoes located in this popular resort destination, may be necessary.
Another climatic issue is flood hazards that have resulted in a substantial number of casualties over the years. Last August, 18 people died in Sayo-cho, Hyogo due to what was dubbed the "guerrilla" rainstorm. Tokyo University Professor Toshio Yamagata (Atmosphere Ocean Science) comments that flood-related catastrophes can be expected this year as well, owing to a long rainy season. “The El Nino effect from spring to early summer may impact the high pressure system over Ogasawara, implying a prolonged rainy season and a chilly summer.”
While the projection on the autumn typhoon is supposedly "normal," various concerns remain over the effect of climatic issues on urban areas. The only good news, specifically for those who suffer hay fever, is the announcement by the Ministry of the Environment that the amount of pollen will be much less than 2009. Either way, it may be a good idea to check municipal hazard notices on a regular basis and be prepared.© Japan Today