The Great Hanshin earthquake, or more commonly known as the Kobe earthquake, occurred January 17, 1995 at around 5:46 am local time. It took place in the southern part of the island, in the southern part of the Hyogoken-Nanbu region of Japan. The earthquake caused a staggering $100 billion in damages, killing roughly 6434 people, (although you can find many varying numbers of deaths), injuring upwards of 43,000 and destroying roughly 152,000 buildings. This was on of the most damaging earthquakes in the post war era, with destruction being widespread and catastrophic. While the island had a history of earthquakes, the population were generally not prepared for a earthquake of this level of damage. Most of the earthquakes in which major damage had been endured, happened in the mid-1800s or earlier, meaning that a lot has changed in between then and the 1995 earthquake. Most of the prior earthquakes did not happen in large cities like Kobe, and it had been so long since a truly devastating earthquake like it had occurred, that the population wasn’t as ready as they should have been. this was before the widespread use of cellphones, which increased the disconnect between the decision makers in Tokyo and the people who are being affected, in addition to the fact that there were very slow decisions that made reacting in time impossible, in fact, it was reported that the Japanese mafia were among the first on the scene offering assistance. Japan has learned a lot since this quake, it has adapted to be able to respond quicker and use more advanced technology to respond when a quake happens. In addition it upgraded its building codes and redid a lot of old buildings that needed to be redone. In a 2004 earthquake fewer people lost lives however there were still destroyed buildings and landslides. It was however in rural Japan however the response was much different there are no clear protocols in the 1995 earthquake which caused a lot of issues. after the 1995 Kobe earthquake the fire police and the ambulance brigades were interconnected so that neighboring cities could come and help if needed. The immediate response is much better in Japan now as shown also in the 2011 earthquake hitting Tōhoku. the response was much faster and the government reached out to many different resources in order to better help the people on the ground


  1. I have never heard of this hazard before but it was really interesting reading your summary. Something that I was shocked about was how slow they were to react to this earthquake. I wouldn’t have expected this at all, especially with how Japan is today. I definitely would have thought they would of had a similar response like with the 2011 earthquake they had, but I guess times were very different back in 1995.

  2. Another interesting thing about this ‘quake: it happened one year after the similar magnitude Northridge Earthquake in southern California, in which fewer than 70 people died. It was a big surprise that so many deaths occurred in Kobe.

  3. I had actually heard of the Kobe Earthquake before but I was not aware of quite how many people died and how extensive the cost in damages were. It was surprising to learn how little preparations or mitigation they had in place and although it means they can learn from it and prepare more efficiently for any future potential quakes – it doesn’t change the fact that so much damage occurred and so many people had died during the Kobe Earthquake given their geographical location and as they would have seen what happened to California the previous year with the Northridge Earthquake as Jackie said. Admittedly, technology is much more advanced today than it was in 1995, but other natural disasters occurred during this time with better preparations in place so it is a wonder why the Kobe Earthquake was so destructive.

  4. After reading your summary, I am really questioning why I have not heard of this earthquake before. For it to have caused this much damages and deaths, I am shocked that I have never heard about it. Either way I am glad I have now. you summary was great, I loved learning how they responded back then compared to the earthquake in 2011. Also I found what Jackie said very interesting, how a similar magnitude Earthquake occurred in southern California, but only 70 or fewer died while in kobe 6434 people died.

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