The chance that Tokyo would be hit by a magnitude-7 earthquake in the next four years is as high as 70 percent, according to research by Tokyo University. Within 30 years, the chances of a quake that size striking the capital go up to 98 percent.
The scenario is more pessimistic than that predicted by the authorities. According to the government, the chances for a magnitude-7 quake in Tokyo are of 70 percent over the next three decades.
Despite the more resistant buildings built within Tokyo, the consequences of a big earthquake would be serious. A magnitude-7.3 quake striking the capital would kill about 5,600 people, injure other 159,000, while about 850,000 buildings would be destroyed, according to the scenario of the government.
Researchers at the Tokyo University think that the probability of a magnitude-7 quake in Tokyo has increased since the Great 2011 Tohoku quake. “The government, individuals and corporations should make preparations for that now,” said Shinichi Sakai, an associate professor at the institute.
In a statement made several days before, Tatsuo Hirano, the minister who deals with the recovery after the 2011 quake, said that Tokyo is a safe city, quoting the lack of serious damage to buildings and transport infrastructure on March 11. He admitted the “high probability” of a powerful quake in the capital, but said “please rest assured and don’t flee Tokyo”.