Mar 12, 2011

Earthquake in Northern Japan

Northern part of Japan has been hit by one of the biggest earthquake in the recent history at 14:46 on 11 March.  It was measured magnitude (Richter scale) 8.8 which is the biggest earthquake in Japan since the National Meteorological Observatory began its observation of earthquake in 1923.  We still do not know the real picture of the damage caused by the earthquake.  Tokyo was also affected.  All the train service was stopped till midnight so that people working in Tokyo could not go home today including our staff members in the General Secretariat of Catholic Bishops Conference.  Afterquake is still occurring.  Several Tsunami have hit wide area of Northen Japan and the National Meteorological Observatory still maintains its waring for major Tsunami at this moment.  We still do not know how many people were killed by this Tsunami.    There is a quite huge nuclear power plant in Fukushima which has been damaged also.  We still do not know how it is at this moment but the government has already ordered those living within 3 km of the plant to evacuate.  The plant has stopped immediately after the quake but the facility to cool down the plant was damaged.  Most of the affected area is in Sendai diocese.  We have difficulty to communicate with Sendai diocese through phones at this moment so that we do not know the damage of Church facilities.  Caritas Japan will organise to raise fund. However at this moment, we may not able to organise rescue operation as such.  Government has mobilised army for the rescue mission and US army is also mobilised.  Church will concentrate on rehabilitation operation after we assess the damage.  Miyako city which was hit by Tsunami is my hometown.  It was hit by big Tsunami in 1960.  Again it was hit by big Tsunami.  Please remember victims in your prayer.

As at 1 am on 12 March, according to the National Police Service, 133 people were killed and 536 people are missing.  Then 722 people have been injured.

At the moment of the earthquake, I was at the other side of the epicenter.  The epicenter, Miyagi, is facing the pacific ocean.  I was in a train from Akita going back to Niigata at Yamagata, 150 km west of the epicenter facing to the Japan sea.  The train made emergency stop immediately after the earthquake and could not resume the operation.  We were standing at the spot for 5 hours.  Around 7 pm, the train company provided us transportation by bus to Niigata.  I arrived at Niigata by 11 pm.


  1. Our prayers are with you from the US. We will be watching for info on how we can help with the relief efforts. I spent many weeks in Yamagata Prefecture in 2010 and I worry about the many wonderful people I met during my visits...I pray that the peace of the Lord will be with them during the difficult months ahead.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Bo in the Orlando Diocese

  2. Thank you Archbishop Bo. I appreciate your concern. We will know the real picture of the disaster after the Sun rise a few hours later.

  3. Sorry, I thought it was from Archbishop Bo. Any way, thank you for your concern ant please continue to pray for us.

  4. Could anyone tell me if nigata has been hit by the earthquake? My wife's sister lives there and we can't make contact with her, my wife is very worried, she had her house wrecked in the last one a few years ago, we are in the uk, our hearts go out for all of you,

  5. Michael, Niigata itself is not hit by yesterday's eartquake. However as at this morning, 7am on 12 March, all the train service with in Niigata prefecture is halted. Early this morning around 4am, there was yet another strong earthquake in this area. Epicenter was in Nagano and this does not have any relation to yesterday's one, it seems, and Eastern part of Niigata, Tokamachi area, was affected. However, according to the NHK news, a few people were injured and no casualities.

  6. Thanks so much for that, there must be some disruption on the wire or something, my wife and family feel better for that, thanks so much,