Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series B
Online ISSN : 1349-2896
Print ISSN : 0386-2208
ISSN-L : 0386-2208
On Earthquake Prediction in Japan
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2013 Volume 89 Issue 9 Pages 391-400


Japan’s National Project for Earthquake Prediction has been conducted since 1965 without success. An earthquake prediction should be a short-term prediction based on observable physical phenomena or precursors. The main reason of no success is the failure to capture precursors. Most of the financial resources and manpower of the National Project have been devoted to strengthening the seismographs networks, which are not generally effective for detecting precursors since many of precursors are non-seismic. The precursor research has never been supported appropriately because the project has always been run by a group of seismologists who, in the present author’s view, are mainly interested in securing funds for seismology — on pretense of prediction. After the 1995 Kobe disaster, the project decided to give up short-term prediction and this decision has been further fortified by the 2011 M9 Tohoku Mega-quake. On top of the National Project, there are other government projects, not formally but vaguely related to earthquake prediction, that consume many orders of magnitude more funds. They are also un-interested in short-term prediction. Financially, they are giants and the National Project is a dwarf. Thus, in Japan now, there is practically no support for short-term prediction research. Recently, however, substantial progress has been made in real short-term prediction by scientists of diverse disciplines. Some promising signs are also arising even from cooperation with private sectors.

(Contributed by Seiya Uyeda, M.J.A.)

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© 2013 The Japan Academy
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