A hundred years ago, Tokyo was brought to its knees by the Great Kanto Earthquake, a devastating event that claimed over 100,000 lives and reshaped the city’s landscape. Disaster Prevention Day serves as a stark reminder, with the government estimating a 70% chance of another major earthquake beneath the city in the next 30 years.

The 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe, which claimed around 6,000 lives, highlighted how even medium-strength tremors can devastate modern cities. Tokyo’s wake-up call came in 2011 with the Tohoku earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan. While the capital saw relatively few casualties due to stringent building standards, the event revealed potential vulnerabilities. Tokyo’s infrequent exposure to strong tremors may create a false sense of security. The early-warning system, designed to alert before destructive waves hit, sometimes triggers false alarms, testing even the most prepared. These alerts, though occasionally inconvenient, are an essential aspect of a system prioritizing caution. The true danger lies not in the risk of collapse but in the potential for fire. Older buildings, constructed before stringent standards were introduced in 1981, pose a greater threat. Modern hazards like the rapid spread of rumors on social media, are less understood but significant. The collapse of communication networks following a disaster further compounds the challenge. The centenary of the 1923 earthquake is a compelling reminder for everyone to reassess emergency preparedness. Geological realities do not adhere to human memory, and disaster risk remains a constant global concern.