Article by Jake Sturmer and Yumi Asada.
The country occupies the intersection of four tectonic plates. The result has been events of unimaginable horror and carnage.
Living with this risk is a reality of life in Japan, which lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an incredibly seismically active area.
The Meiji-Sanriku earthquake of 1896 was barely felt by the residents along the coast of Tohoku, but moments later a huge tsunami the size of an 11-storey building roared in.
In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake is believed to have shaken Tokyo and Yokohama for as long as 10 minutes. The powerful quake then triggered a 12-metre high tsunami. People who fled to an abandoned lot in downtown Tokyo were burned to death by a fire tornado.
More recently, the March 2011 triple disaster of an earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear meltdown on Japan’s north-eastern coast remains firmly in the minds of everyone here.
The quake, which was a Shindo 7, or magnitude-9, was the strongest to strike the region since records began in the 19th century.
Insurance company Swiss Re ranks the metropolitan area of Tokyo-Yokohama as “by far its most earthquake-threatened” area, with 30 million people potentially affected.
Professor Akira Fuse, an expert who simulates the impacts of natural disasters, says Government modelling suggests that if a 7.3-magnitude quake struck the capital, almost 10,000 people would die.
“Nearly 20,000 people will have serious injuries from the earthquake alone — they will survive the disaster but will be in severe condition,” he said.
When it comes to natural disasters, Japan is one of the most exposed countries in the world.
“Japan faces earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic disaster, flood disaster — an array of catastrophe,” Professor Matsuo said.
The people of this disaster-prone nation are prepared from childhood to face the worst.
Many day-care centres and schools hold regular evacuation drills.
Skyscrapers are built with shock absorbers, and are designed to sway rather than topple during seismic activity.
Disaster kits filled with first aid supplies and provisions are a common feature in homes and offices.
The Government tells people to keep enough food, water and essential items to survive for up to a week before help can arrive.
In summary good preparation is the only thing the Japanese population can realistic undertake.