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is japan sinking?
Is Japan Sinking?
posted by John Spacey, Japan Talk, August 23, 2012
Q: Is Japan sinking? Yes and no.
Japan is the most seismically active country in the World. It sits at the intersection of several tectonic plates. The shape and location of Japan is gradually transformed by plate movements. However, Japan is generally not sinking. In fact, its mountains are becoming higher as these plates crush together.
The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake did cause parts of Japan to sink. A 400 kilometer (250 mile) stretch of Tohoku coastline dropped vertically by 0.6 meters (2 feet). However, parts of Japan also got wider and the seabed off the coast of Tohoku raised by as much as 3 meters.
Urban LegendsMany Japanese people believe that Japan is sinking.
A popular 1973 Japanese novel "Japan Sinks" helped to perpetuate this myth. The book was made into a popular movie in 1976 and 2006. In the movie, Japan sinks within a few days. If this actually happened, all of the World's coastal cities would be destroyed by the resulting tsunami.
A Japanese parody (movie) of "Japan Sinks" was also released in 2006. It's titled "Everything Other than Japan Sinks".
The Future of JapanAt one time Japan was attached to the Asian continent. Geologically, Japan has moved further East and become more mountainous for the past 15 million years. This trend is likely to continue.
In the future, it's likely that humans will shape Japan more than earthquakes. For example, 100s of square kilometers of artificial land have been added to Tokyo just in the past 60 years. Any part of Japan that does sink as the result of an earthquake will likely be build back up with landfill.
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