Japan hit by 8.9 earthquake

Thomas Lifson
An unknown number of people have been killed, and tsunami damage is extensive in the wake of a huge offshore earthquake striking Japan in mid-afternoon, local time, Friday.  Dramatic pictures are reaching American television of damage from the resulting tsunami, in many cases sweeping a wave of debris inland.

So far, there have been no reports of major buildings collapsing, and no major fires sweeping through neighborhoods, as happened in the wake of the Kobe earthquake in 1995, which resulted in over 5000 deaths.

Pictures of Sendai Airport, a few hundred miles northeast of Tokyo show the airport completely flooded by the tsunami. However, that field is adjacent to the Pacific coastline, directly exposed to the tsunami's fury.



There are three other, much larger airports in Japan also heavily exposed to the ocean, but so far no reports of damage. They are Tokyo Haneda airport,  built on landfill into Tokyo Bay, Centrair Airport in Nagoya, built on an artificial island in Nagoya Bay, and Kansai International Airport built on an island in Osaka Bay.  All three fields appear to have escaped tsunami damage, apparently because their bays sheltered them. Narita Airport, Tokyo's largest international airport, also is near the coast, but is on the shore of Tokyo Bay, and may also be sheltered.

There are millions of people who live along the Pacific Coast of Japan. An early report has a train missing -- there are areas where passenger trains hug the coastline. That's a bad sign.

The contrast between Japan and Haiti, two nations hit by devastating earthquakes, could not be greater. Japan is extremely well organized, technologically advanced, and wealthy. Japan will find and rescue (or bury) its victims, clean up the damage, and rebuild where necessary. Haiti, alas, has demonstrated an inability to do these things.

America has few better friends than Japan in today's world. We should help Japan as much as possible, just as Japan helped us after the San Francisco earthquake. But the resourceful, hard working Japanese will recover by relying on the social strength that has propelled Japan's extraordinary society to economic prominence.

An unknown number of people have been killed, and tsunami damage is extensive in the wake of a huge offshore earthquake striking Japan in mid-afternoon, local time, Friday.  Dramatic pictures are reaching American television of damage from the resulting tsunami, in many cases sweeping a wave of debris inland.

So far, there have been no reports of major buildings collapsing, and no major fires sweeping through neighborhoods, as happened in the wake of the Kobe earthquake in 1995, which resulted in over 5000 deaths.

Pictures of Sendai Airport, a few hundred miles northeast of Tokyo show the airport completely flooded by the tsunami. However, that field is adjacent to the Pacific coastline, directly exposed to the tsunami's fury.



There are three other, much larger airports in Japan also heavily exposed to the ocean, but so far no reports of damage. They are Tokyo Haneda airport,  built on landfill into Tokyo Bay, Centrair Airport in Nagoya, built on an artificial island in Nagoya Bay, and Kansai International Airport built on an island in Osaka Bay.  All three fields appear to have escaped tsunami damage, apparently because their bays sheltered them. Narita Airport, Tokyo's largest international airport, also is near the coast, but is on the shore of Tokyo Bay, and may also be sheltered.

There are millions of people who live along the Pacific Coast of Japan. An early report has a train missing -- there are areas where passenger trains hug the coastline. That's a bad sign.

The contrast between Japan and Haiti, two nations hit by devastating earthquakes, could not be greater. Japan is extremely well organized, technologically advanced, and wealthy. Japan will find and rescue (or bury) its victims, clean up the damage, and rebuild where necessary. Haiti, alas, has demonstrated an inability to do these things.

America has few better friends than Japan in today's world. We should help Japan as much as possible, just as Japan helped us after the San Francisco earthquake. But the resourceful, hard working Japanese will recover by relying on the social strength that has propelled Japan's extraordinary society to economic prominence.