Disaster-Proof: Japan Endures 6.9 Quake

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People cross the road in the walk on the pavement in the Ginza shopping district in downtown Tokyo


A deep, 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit off the southern coast of Japan today, jolting buildings as far as downtown Tokyo, several hundred kilometers north of the seism’s epicenter. But ever prepared for heavy tremblors, the Land of the Rising Sun seems, once more, to have emerged without so much as a scratch.

There have been no immediate reports of damage or injury, let alone a tsunami warning, since the spasm struck at 12:25pm local time, its epicenter near the Ogasawara Islands, or the Bonin Islands, as they are known outside of Japan. Though Japan’s meteorological agency put the quake at a magnitude of 6.9, the U.S. Geological Survey has come out with a measurement of 6.6.

(See pictures of cities rebuilt after disasters.)

Perched on the Ring of Fire, an arc of seismic activity that encircles the Pacific Basin, Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. It’s also one of the best equipped to handle them. Since a 7.2-magnitude seism devastated the western port city of Kobe and its environs in 1995, killing upwards of 6,000, the country, a pioneer in earthquake engineering research, has passed laws to make urban structures more disaster-proof than ever. Groundbreaking (or quite the opposite, really) architectural techniques isolate buildings from the shuddering earth beneath them during quakes, preventing collapse. Japanese cities might easily be shaken up, but they’re rarely knocked down.

(See the top 10 deadliest earthquakes.)