Government of Japan

Dear Government of Japan, I am Alexander Truong, a research geologist with a Bachelor’s Degree of Geology and I am currently working for the Economic Geology Research Centre (EGRC) at the James Cook University (JCU) in Queensland, Australia. I am writing to address a natural disaster of which is a tsunami, that happened in your country on March 11, 2011.

The March 2011 Tsunami that occurred in Japan was triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that started in the Pacific Ocean about 371 kilometres off the northeast coast of Japan at 2:46 PM JST. About 18,000 or more, people were reported dead along with approximately 2500 people missing. The tsunami's waves were estimated to be up to 50 feet tall (15m) and demolished buildings and structures as it swept over Japan. The ground was severely damaged by the tsunami because of liquefaction occurred and shifted the ground. Effects of the liquefaction occurred in the aftermath of the tsunami in the form of sand boils and uplifts in manholes. Attempting to regrow crops and vegetation will be extremely difficult due to the effects of liquefaction, soil erosion and salinity in the soil. In addition to the terrible effects of the tsunami, the Government of Japan declared a nuclear incident at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant was damaged. The power plant leaked out low level toxic gases and chemicals into the air and authorities had to evacuate residents because the area had become contaminated and residents would’ve got radiation sickness if exposed for a long period of time. Financially, the tsunami inflicted about $360 billion worth of damage onto Japan’s economy and it is estimated that Japan will take 10 years to recover and undo all the damage that the tsunami has done.

Before the tsunami had struck Japan, the Government of Japan had received an Early Earthquake Warning that warned them of an Earthquake that occurred near the northeast coast of Japan. Minutes after the Government of Japan immediately set up emergency headquarters and evacuated residents of nearby areas. In the aftermath of the tsunami, the Government of Japan sent rescue teams to search for missing people and help evacuees. Non-government organisations such as World Vision came about 48 hours after the tsunami to provide relief to the affected people by providing them with clean food and water, warm clothes and medicine. World Vision has helped over 300,000 people by providing relief to the affected people of Japan. Although the warning system was adequate in warning Japan just minutes after the earthquake occurred, the tsunami still crippled Japan because they weren’t prepared for these events. The response to the situation could be improved for future situations by immediately sending out rescue teams by helicopter to help rescue or evacuate residents of nearby areas or stockpiling and sending extra supplies to affected people instead of waiting for NGOs to come and aid Japan.

Despite the fact that Japan has various defence systems and mechanisms in place, the extent of tsunamis are unpredictable and can vary, challenging Japan’s defence systems put in place. In order to prevent or mitigate the impact of future tsunamis, I believe that builder higher seawalls made of strong and durable materials such as reinforced concrete and steel. The seawalls should be at least 53 feet tall (16m) or taller in order to prevent or mitigate forceful tsunamis that might have been triggered by magnitude 8.5 or higher earthquakes. Another method is to build largely used structures such as shopping centres, on high ground or far away from coastal areas that are prone to tsunamis to decrease the death toll and mitigate the impact of tsunamis on structures. I also recommend constructing more floodgates and channels to divert incoming water and helps reduce damage. All these methods can mitigate or prevent the impacts of future tsunamis and can help protect your country and save thousands of lives if you implement them.

I urge you to take action immediately before anything else happens to your country because a future tsunami can cause a major developmental setback if the impact is not prevented or mitigated with these methods. In conclusion, I strongly believe that constructing high seawalls, building largely used structures away from coastal areas, creating more floodgates and channels to help divert tsunami water, are various methods used to prevent or mitigate the impacts of a future tsunami.

Sincerely,

Alexander Truong

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