Latest update: 12/03/2011
A history of quakes
Japan, situated on the "Ring of Fire" arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches which partly encircles the Pacific Basin, accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater. A tremor occurs at least every five minutes.
- The Great Kanto earthquake of Sept. 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9, killed nearly 143,000 people and wreaked utter destruction in the Tokyo area.
- On March 2, 1933, on Japan's northeast Pacific coast, a magnitude 8.1 quake off the coast of Honshu caused a large tsunami that killed more than 3,000 people.
- On June 28, 1948 an earthquake measuring 7.3 killed 3,769 people at Fukui 28 miles northeast of Kyoto.
- On Jan. 16, 1995, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit central Japan, devastating the western port city of Kobe. It was the worst earthquake to hit Japan in 50 years, killing more than 6,430 and causing an estimated $100 billion in damage -- the most expensive natural disaster in history.
- On Oct. 23, 2004, a 6.8 magnitude quake struck the Niigata region, about 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, killing 65 people and injuring 3,000.
- On March 25, 2007, a 6.9 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, about 300 km west of Tokyo, killing one person, injuring more than 200 and destroying hundreds of homes.
- On July 16, 2007, a 6.8 magnitude quake struck Niigata prefecture, about 250 km (150 miles) northwest of Tokyo, killing 11 people and injuring 1,950. The tremor caused radiation leaks at the world's largest nuclear plant, which officials said were within safety regulations and posed no threat to the environment.