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Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning, and can occur at any time of year; day or night. On a yearly basis, 70 to 75 damaging earthquakes occur throughout the world. Japan has seen several devastating earthquakes within the last century alone. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 occurred in the Kanto plain around Tokyo. It was largest in Japan at that point, and killed more than 100,000 people. In 1995, the city of Kobe experienced an earthquake registering at 6.8 on the Richter scale, which killed 6,000 people. On March 11th 2011, the Tohoku earthquake which registered as a 9.03 on the Richter scale triggered a terrifying tsunami which killed 15,000, caused a nuclear reactor to meltdown, and affected 20 prefectures. This earthquake was the deadliest in Japanese recorded history.
The majority of tremors felt are due to natural seismic activity. However man-made earthquakes can also incur the same consequences. On February 12th, 2013, the South Korean media attributed shaking in the northern region of the country, to a nuclear test purportedly conducted by North Korea.
To receive up to date information on earthquakes and tremors that occur in Japan, visit Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). In addition, many phone services provide major earthquake/ tsunami alerts. Check with your phone provider for details specific to your plan.
Okinawa is in an area called the "Pacific Ring of Fire", and this area is the most volatile region for seismic activity in the world. Earthquakes are caused from plates shifting beneath the earth's surface. When the sudden shift or break occurs, massive amounts of energy are released creating seismic waves.