See More on Facebook

Analysis, Economics

Powerful earthquake rocks Hokkaido

A powerful earthquake struck Hokkaido early Thursday, causing blackouts in Sapporo and other areas and sending items tumbling off shelves.


Written by

Updated: September 6, 2018

The precise number of casualties in Hokkaido remains unclear.

The latest tally by public broadcaster NHK as of 9am showed that at least 20 people are missing – and could have been buried alive in their homes due to the mudslides. At least 120 people were injured, including 87 in capital city Sapporo alone.

Japan’s northernmost island is also the country’s largest prefecture and home to about 5.4 million people.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the magnitude-6.7 earthquake recorded upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in the town of Abira, Hokkaido, and lower 6 in the city of Chitose, Hokkaido. The quake, which struck at about 3:08 a.m., was centered at a depth of about 40 kilometers in the eastern part of the Iburi district.

An official in the Abira city office said the earthquake knocked items off bookshelves and desks.

“We won’t know the full extent of the damage until after sunrise,” the official said.

Guests at a hotel near JR Sapporo Station were seen standing outside the hotel with worried expressions after the quake.

Power was cut in cities including Sapporo, Hakodate and Tomakomai.

The New Chitose Airport, which serves Sapporo, will be closed for the whole of Thursday at least, due to the power outage and extensive structural damage with burst water pipes and collapsed wall panels.

Shinkansen bullet train services connecting Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on Japan’s main island, to Hakodate, the southernmost city on Hokkaido, have also been temporarily halted.

Dramatic news pictures show a landslide along a long ridge in the rural town of Atsuma, as well as collapsed brick walls and broken glass and overturned furniture in homes.

Efforts to restore power are currently underway. Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said the ministry has instructed Hokkaido Electric Power to restart the coal-fired Tomato-Atsuma power plant “within a few hours”.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in convening an Emergency Response Headquarters meeting, said 25,000 Self-Defence Force (SDF) personnel will be activated for relief operations.

The JMA has warned of the possibility of aftershocks of a similar intensity for the next week.

Japan is situated on the “Ring of Fire” arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin, and accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s earthquakes measuring at least magnitude 6.0.

Thursday’s tremor registered a six-plus on the seven-point Japanese ‘shindo’ seismic intensity scale, which measures earthquakes by their impact on the public and not by geology.

A reading of six-plus means that most will find it impossible to remain standing and to move without crawling.

The earthquake comes as Japan grapples with the disaster relief in the aftermath of the strongest typhoon to hit the country since 1993.

Typhoon Jebi, which made landfall on Tuesday (Sept 4) in the Kansai region, had left at least 11 dead and 600 injured, flooding the Kansai Airport and forcing the closure of the facility.

Mr Abe said on Thursday that domestic flights will resume on Friday, with international flights to follow “as soon as possible”.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Economics

Cooperating on energy in face of tariffs

At Houston oil and gas industry forum, US, China executives discuss future. The US energy industry expects a strong long-term energy relationship with China, a US energy official told US and Chinese oil and gas executives the day after China announced a retaliatory 10 per cent tariff on US natural gas. Steve Winberg, US Energy Department assistant secretary for fossil energy, on Wednesday assured the energy executives that the US has never revoked a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export authorization, nor plans to do so. “Some potential exporters and financiers have expressed concern that the US may rescind or revoke LNG export authorization. Let me be very clear that these concerns are unfounded,” Winberg said on Wednesday at the opening of the two-day 18th US-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum in Houston. The forum has been a collaboration of the US Energy Department, Ch


By Cod Satrusayang
September 25, 2018

Analysis, Economics

Swift assistance needed to rehabilitate Hokkaido’s quake-stricken industries

To realize Hokkaido’s post-quake rehabilitation, it is indispensable to rebuild its industries. A half month has passed since the Hokkaido earthquake, which registered the highest level on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7. A power blackout that spread to all parts of the prefecture has been resolved. The No. 1 unit at the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant — a facility that plays a central role in the supply of electricity there — has been brought back on line. The government has withdrawn its request for power-saving, and neon lighting has returned to flourishing areas in Sapporo. However, scars from the earthquake have not yet healed. Even if the amount of direct damage, including that caused to roads, rivers and forest land, is calculated alone, the figure exceeds ¥150 billion. There are still many disaster victims in evacuation centers. T


By The Japan News
September 25, 2018

Analysis, Economics

Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen in shock election defeat

The Maldivian election was watched closely as an indicator of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen’s hopes for a second presidential term were dashed on September 24 with opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeating him in the country’s elections. After a months-long sweeping crackdown on the opposition and a brief state of emergency imposed by the autocratic Yameen, the election on September 23 was preceded by a bitter campaign during which opposition leaders frequently accused the ruling regime of rights abuses and oppression. Several independent news websites reported that after the counting of a majority of the votes, Solih had won more than 58 per cent of the votes to 41 per cent for Yameen. Hours after the emergence of the informal results, Yameen conceded defeat to Solih during a televised news conference, saying: “Mal


By Lamat R Hasan
September 25, 2018

Analysis, Economics

Disruption seen from auto parts duty in US-China trade war

US tariffs on Chinese auto parts will probably result in higher prices and could disrupt the global automotive supply chain industry. The Trump administration has imposed a new 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that takes effect on Sept 24. Beginning on Jan 1, the tariffs will increase to 25 percent. China retaliated with $60 billion of new tariffs on US products. The new levies target more than 100 automotive products including engines, gaskets, rubber seals, tires and transmission shafts. Tariffs are basically taxes on the consumer, and all costs increases within the supply chain will eventually be passed along to the consumer, according to Peter Nagle, senior automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “In the short-term, suppliers might absorb some of the cost of the tariff but eventually they will have to raise prices or resource product from elsewhere, which also will rai


By China Daily
September 24, 2018

Analysis, Economics

Thai seafood giant to address slavery issues at UN

Thailand’s progress in promoting human rights in the fishing industry will be addressed in a panel session on modern slavery and human trafficking at the United Nations General Assembly by seafood giants Thai Union. Darian McBain, global director of sustainability for the Thai Union Group, will address the panel on the topic of “Stepping up Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking”. “Thailand has made a number of advances on human rights, which should be commended, but there is more work to be done and I believe Thailand has the opportunity b


By The Nation (Thailand)
September 24, 2018

Analysis, Economics

India launches world’s biggest healthcare programme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s ambitious healthcare program on Sunday. Deemed the “world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme”, the scheme will cover half a billion people through its network of hospitals and support services. Speaking at the event, the PM said that the number of beneficiaries is equivalent to the total population of the United States, Canada and Mexico or the entire European Union. “This is a major step taken to fulfil the vision of providing better healthcare facilities to the poorest of the poor and to those standing last in the queue,” the PM said. Following the launch, the PM informed the gathering that the scheme covers diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, kidney and liver problems, diabetes and over 1300 various ailments. “The treatment of the diseases can not only be done in government hospitals but also private hospitals,” said


By Cod Satrusayang
September 24, 2018