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Massive soil mound on slope believed to have worsened Atami mudslide

35 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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Consequences of a lax and corrupt government.

A thorough investigation into the finances of officials responsible for the oversight and permitting of these projects , with appropriate harsh penalties is necessary to ensure that these conditions are not allowed to endanger innocent civilians.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Izu has sadly been a very popular place for shady construction operators to dump debris for at least the last 40-50 years. I have seen mounds of concrete, appliances, broken window glass, tin roofs, house parts, etc. strewn in very remote areas of Izu. It's hard to see this during the warmer months from the vegetation cover, but they're very evident in the winter.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The truth will come out! This is what I wrote yesterday that was posted. July 6 10:18 pm JST Posted in: Survivor window closing in Atami landslide; 24 unaccounted for See in context

What people have to understand is the real "possigle political reason behind the mud landslide" Those homes have been there for years, regardless of how old they were and no home no matter how strong of materials it was built with would have been able to not sustain some damage from such an event. With that said do a little more research and ask WHY the mayor of the town allowed the chinese to come in excavate and remove hundreds if not thousands of trees to put in solar panels? Climate change my arse, this is man made!! Removing the trees and their roots and with heavy rains you are asking for trouble. Do some research this is why this happened but no one wants to talk about the real reason. Go to the mayors office and ask why and identify the location. Bingo there's your reason, the untold truth!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@wanderlust *Apparently illegal industrial waste dump? Money must have changed hands or was passed under the table to permit it. Considering how much paperwork it requires for a simple house alteration, along with checks and inspections, somebody has turned a blind eye to this. Spot on the investigation should be centered around the mayor and governor who allowed the "CHINESE" to put solar panels there. Now with that you had to have deforestation. The area has been there for years no problems when you move thousands of trees with "ROOTS" holding the soil together this is what going to happen. There is nothing to hold that mud now so you will get the slipping and sliding!! This is hilarious *Gov Takashi Namba said after an initial assessment the area also had other land development, including a solar power generation complex, deforestation, a housing complex and an apparently illegal industrial waste dump. He said geological details suggest the solar complex and housing development were not the cause of the mudslide, though a further examination is needed. I'm still laughing at the fuzzy logic and then he said further examination is needed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I also remember Aberfan, appalling mistakes were made and a total lack of regulation at the time. But lessons were learned and regulation implemented which should have been known by every professional civil engineer around the globe. Tipping or land reshaping on the side of a mountain comes with inherent problems and if those problems are not properly addressed inevitable disaster. It looks like here either the regulations were not fit for purpose which in a mountainous country with a history of frequent mud slides is inexcusable or the regulations were ignored/corruptly side stepped/inadequately enforced. This was not a natural disaster but man made. Whether those responsible will face punishment is yet to be seen

Daninthepan, no the schools were not first in line, there were farms, cottages and houses wiped out before but it was the dreadful loss of life in the primary school that is unforgettable.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This tragic landslide underscores the fact that Man in his ignorance and greed must always pay a heavy price messing with Mother Nature, but through experience, knowledge and science it is to be hoped that we can become better stewards of our planet earth. Condolences to the Japanese and respect for their fortitude in having to repeatedly rebuild their lives on their beautiful but unstable native soil.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Organized crime was definitely involved, local politicians and construction co's made bank, they will pretend to investigate and find nothing. Rinse and repeat, nationwide.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

David Brent

It doesn't help that Japanese building codes are so poor. "Houses" consisting of 2x4 with tin tacked on to them....talk about Third-World.

That may have been the case decades ago. But, it hasn't been that way for many years, at least since 1981, when stricter guidelines were put in place as part of a major change to the building code. There have been periodic changes since then, as well, such as in 2000.

If you watched any modern construction site here, whether detached homes or apartment buildings, you'd see some pretty sturdy construction going on.

My own house, which is over three decades old, so not exactly brand-spanking new, withstood the 2018 Osaka M6+ earthquake with zero damage, and only one picture frame falling over on a shelf.

An M6+ earthquake would have destroyed whole towns in third-world countries, and even some 2nd and 1st world, like China or Brazil.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"A survey of the area in 2020 showed that the mound was 50 meters (164 feet) high, suggesting an unauthorized addition of several layers during the past decade, the vice governor said. The land was sold to a new owner in 2011."

So something should have been done when the 50m mound was discovered.

It doesn't help that Japanese building codes are so poor. "Houses" consisting of 2x4 with tin tacked on to them....talk about Third-World.

None of that is correct. Many houses swept away were new modern ones. No such houses exist. There are houses with corrugated tin used for external cladding but there are walls. These are usually the older traditional houses.

Daninthepan

We learn nothing in this world: The Aberfan landslide in Wales in 1966,

I remember very well. I was a teenager when it happened. Slag heap.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The traditional way of thinking about man versus nature in Japan was that man was part of mother nature, being made alive and nurtured by it, whereby destroying natural environment was traditionally thought to be a profane criminal act.

That thinking changed dramatically after the Meiji Restoration in which everything Western was thought superb, thereby must be copied and aped. Until recently, the anthropocentric Western culture thought that nature was there entirely for man to exploit it in whatever form it may take.   

Today, Japan is a champion of the world's worst destroyer of nature, no doubt.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's a tragedy for those who have lost loved ones. They now need to form a group to make sure justice is done

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I wonder if the annual reshuffle of staff in city governments is a contributing factor? Seems like the earth mound was a known problem but nothing was actually done about it. Let the next person deal with it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

So, in other words. No one did anything and wasn’t planning to do anything till an actual disaster happened.

In Japan, someone has to die before a law can be made. This is true with child abuse, anti-stalking, bullying, March 11 Great East earthquake, and so on. "Legal Responses to the Atami Mudslide of 2021" will be your child's research paper for school.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Before commenters make any judgement, we need to clarify that the mound was not the cause because it was located below the start of the mud slide. It was on the way and just added volume to the eroded materials.

It was not the cause.

This seems just plain wrong, unless I am missing something. I've been watching the news reports which show where the mound was and its basically exactly at the location shown in the photo at the top of this article where the landslide clearly began.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I am not an expert, and this is just idle speculation, but apart from the issue of adding volume and weight on a steep slope with soft or sedimentary ground, which will get heavier and sludgier and ready to roll with heavy rain, there seems to be further logical aggravating cause to explain this. If there is a soft porous exposed platform, the water will soak in there much more than if it kept its natural sloping shape. It will therefore absorb a far greater volume of water in one place. which would otherwise have run off. Add to this that it probably drained to where the new soil sat on the old, where basically an underground river formed. They also dammed up the water above this, so it built up and then burst, which could be the perfect first push to set the whole thing off.

Damming the water, removing the tree cover and shaping it like they did was just asking for it to do what it did.

Noone has said the Y word yet, but if there are construction projects, dumping, regulations not enforced, where does that lead you?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Before commenters make any judgement, we need to clarify that the mound was not the cause because it was located below the start of the mud slide. It was on the way and just added volume to the eroded materials.

It was not the cause.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

A 50m high (!!) mound of unsupported soil built in a bowl-shaped valley. That is not going to be stable.

Wooden waste, probably including tree stumps which are expensive to dispose of, that will decompose will make it even more unstable.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

We learn nothing in this world: The Aberfan landslide in Wales in 1966, 116 school children, 28 adults killed because someone wanted to make an easy buck illegally dumping coal waste on a hill above a town. The primary school was first in the landslide's path.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Construction of the mound began in 2009 under a plan to bring in 36,600 cubic meters of soil for a height of 15 meters and was completed in 2010. In the process, contamination of the soil with plastic and wooden waste was found and the owner was ordered to remove them, suggesting it was a waste dump rather than for development, Namba said.

This sort of thing is a really widespread problem in Japan that doesn't get much attention. There is a good article (in English) where you can read more about it here:

https://catforehead.com/2020/08/08/dirty-deeds-done-dirt-cheap/

Officials are checking ownership changes and unauthorized land alterations related to the mound and other projects.

I hope that in addition to that police and prosecutors are also going to begin investigating. People are dead, houses are destroyed. If illegal dumping caused all this death and destruction, which seems likely based on the information in the article, then the people who did it need to be held to account.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Prefectural officials are discussing ways to prevent further erosion and landslides in the area.

That's good to hear, and if this is true;

experts say the rains are worsening due to climate change.

Then prefectural officials and property developers throughout the country need to ensure mitigating measures are included at the front end whenever new construction is done, especially in areas that are at greatest risk of flooding or landslides.

By now Japan's engineers and technicians in both the private and public sectors must have lots of information regarding design methods that can be implemented to reduce the likelihood of more catastrophic problems down the road.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The hill was going to fall down at some point mount or not

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

Stop hating so much guys! If they find the right person to blame, the mud will flow back up the hill and the dead people will come back to life!

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

Show me a picture of a house being built in Japan from "2x4 with tin tacked on".

This site doesn't allow me to upload photos, but I can walk through any Japanese town and see such Third-World "housing". So could you, if you weren't so blind.

14 ( +23 / -9 )

David BrentToday  08:29 am JST

It doesn't help that Japanese building codes are so poor. "Houses" consisting of 2x4 with tin tacked on to them....talk about Third-World.

Nonsense. Show me a picture of a house being built in Japan from "2x4 with tin tacked on".

As for building codes, buildings in Japan fare much better during earthquakes than those in your "Third-World".

-10 ( +13 / -23 )

So it wasn't caused by global warming then as some commentators in here were harping on about the other day, eh! Duh!

-14 ( +5 / -19 )

Anyone who has spent time in the Japanese countryside has seen endless garbage that has been dumped into forests and other generally unoccupied areas. Rather than pay the cost to have the items disposed of properly, it's much easier and cheaper to just throw it in the woods.

Normally, stuff like this is just an eyesore, but clearly there can also be a huge risk. It's not hard to see this same attitude being used towards larger scale projects as well, if people think no one is watching.

25 ( +27 / -2 )

Prefectural officials are discussing ways to prevent further erosion and landslides in the area.

He said decades-old ordnances related to forestry and land may need to be toughened to regulate waste dumping and land use.

An assessment is planned of other land developments around the country, land ministry officials said.

So, in other words. No one did anything and wasn’t planning to do anything till an actual disaster happened.

And no actual disaster plan or prevention measures were taken beforehand, as usual.

Good job Japan brass. Just what we have come to expect from you over the past few decades.

And we won’t even get into the “illegal waste dump” situation here. That would take weeks to discuss.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Japan is not the “Green” country they want the world to believe.

It's certainly not an exception to the practice of illegal garbage dumping.

But who exactly is "they"?

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Japan is not the “Green” country they want the world to believe.

Whomever believed Japan was a "green country?"

13 ( +20 / -7 )

It doesn't help that Japanese building codes are so poor. "Houses" consisting of 2x4 with tin tacked on to them....talk about Third-World.

5 ( +23 / -18 )

Sounds like a good ol game of pass the buck. What are the odds that noone ends up being to blame?

20 ( +23 / -3 )

Apparently illegal industrial waste dump?

Money must have changed hands or was passed under the table to permit it.

Considering how much paperwork it requires for a simple house alteration, along with checks and inspections,

somebody has turned a blind eye to this.

29 ( +32 / -3 )

Yep! A massive soil mound or dirt hill could be a major reason why three was a mud slip. Ya Think?!

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Now any other locations with a risk of mudslides must undergo a careful review to see if this kind of problems are not present, for the victims of this disaster noticing it comes already too late, but probably there are other places where still something can be done to avoid it.

21 ( +24 / -3 )

Adding ‘salt to the wounds’:

“He noted the area also had other land development… and an apparently illegal industrial waste dump.” -

Now, additional questions of their source and origins.

Japan is not the “Green” country they want the world to believe.

19 ( +28 / -9 )

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