2004 Chūetsu earthquake

The Chūetsu earthquakes (中越地震 Chūetsu jishin) occurred in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, at 17:56 local time (08:56 UTC) on Saturday, October 23, 2004. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) named it the "Heisei 16 Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake" (平成16年新潟県中越地震 Heisei ju-roku-nen Niigata-ken Chuetsu Jishin).[1][2] Niigata Prefecture is located in the Hokuriku region of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The initial earthquake had a magnitude of 6.6 and caused noticeable shaking across almost half of Honshu, including parts of the Tōhoku, Hokuriku, Chūbu, and Kantō regions.

2004 Chūetsu earthquake
2004 Chūetsu earthquake is located in Japan
 Japan Niigata Prefecture Chūetsu region
2004 Chūetsu earthquake
UTC time2004-10-23 08:56:00
ISC event7421058
Local dateOctober 23, 2004
Local time17:56 Japan Standard Time
Magnitude6.6 Mw
Areas affectedJapan, Niigata Prefecture
Casualties68 dead, 4,805 injured


The first quake struck the Chuetsu area of Niigata Prefecture, Japan with a reading of 7 on the Japanese shindo intensity scale at Kawaguchi, Niigata.[1] The moment magnitude of the earthquake is estimated at 6.6. For comparison, the Great Hanshin earthquake, which devastated much of Kobe, measured 7 on the shindo scale, with a magnitude of 7.3.[3] The earthquake occurred at a depth of 15.8 km. The JMA gave the coordinates of the earthquake as 37°18′N 138°48′E / 37.3°N 138.8°ECoordinates: 37°18′N 138°48′E / 37.3°N 138.8°E.

A second earthquake occurred at 18:11,[4] 16 minutes after the first. This one, at a much shallower depth, had a shindo intensity of 6+ and a magnitude of 5.9. A third, at 6:34, had a shindo intensity of 6−. At 19:45,[5] another intensity 6− earthquake occurred. Intervening and subsequent earthquakes of lesser intensity also shook the region. During the first 116 hours, 15 earthquakes with intensities of shindo 5− or higher rocked the Chuetsu region.[6]

In a press release, the Geographical Survey Institute (GSI) of the Government of Japan published preliminary estimates that a fault having a length of 22 km and a width of 17 km moved approximately 1.4 m.

This was the deadliest earthquake to strike Japan since the January 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

This was also first time a snake robot was used at a natural disaster site. A Souryu serpentine robot was used in a house in Nagoaka City that was damaged during this earthquake.[7]


Chuetsu earthquake-myouken2
Road damaged by landslide
Chuetsu earthquake-earthquake liquefaction1
Damaged road in Ojiya, October 2004

As late as November 3, the 39th fatality attributable to the earthquakes occurred as perceptible aftershocks continued. 68 dead and 4,795 injuries were reported in Niigata Prefecture.[8] Over one hundred thousand people fled their homes. The earthquakes caused houses to collapse in Ojiya and damaged thousands in the area.

Chuetsu earthquake-jieitai2
Disaster relief convoy of the Japan Self-Defense Forces

For the first time in its 40-year history, a Shinkansen train derailed while in service, the train being too close to the epicentre to be halted by the automatic UrEDAS earthquake detection system.[9] Eight out of ten cars of the Toki 325 service (a 200 Series Shinkansen train) derailed on the Joetsu Shinkansen line between Nagaoka Station in Nagaoka and Urasa Station in Yamato; no injuries were reported among the 155 passengers. The railbed, bridges and tunnels were all affected. East Japan Railway Company (JR East) stopped all trains in Niigata Prefecture, including the extensively damaged Joetsu Line, Shinetsu Main Line, Iiyama Line, Tadami Line and Echigo Line. Part of Nagaoka Station appeared ready to collapse as a result of an aftershock, but after a brief closure, the station reopened.

Chuetsu earthquake-takidashi
Soup distributed to people left homeless by the earthquake

The section of the Joetsu Shinkansen between Echigo-Yuzawa Station and Tsubame-Sanjo Station closed. Buses transferred passengers between the two operating sections of the line: Tokyo Station to Echigo-Yuzawa Station and Tsubame-Sanjo Station to Niigata Station.

200 K25 Toki 325 derailed 20041106
Derailed Joetsu Shinkansen train several days after the earthquake

On December 27, 2004, service resumed on all remaining parts of the Joetsu and Iiyama Lines reopened. On December 28, 2004, the Joetsu Shinkansen also reopened, the last to do so.

Japan Highways closed all expressways in Niigata Prefecture. Closures affected the Kanetsu Expressway and the Hokuriku Expressway. As of November 4, the Kanetsu Expressway remained closed between Nagaoka Interchange and Koide Interchange. This segment reopened on November 5.

Landslides and other problems forced closure of two national highways, National Route 8 and National Route 17, as well as several prefectural roads. This isolated several localities, including nearly the entire village of Yamakoshi, which was then a village in the district of Koshi but since merged with and became part of the city of Nagaoka. On July 22, 2005, the government lifted the nine-month-old evacuation order for 528 of the 690 affected households.

The earthquakes also caused a landslide that partially buried three vehicles. A young boy was rescued from one of these vehicles, but his mother and sister perished. (Recent typhoons had waterlogged the soil, making landslides more likely.)

The quake broke water mains. Extensive electric power, telephone (including cellular telephone) and Internet outages were reported. The cellular telephone system suffered from direct damage to relay stations, as well as depletion of battery back-up power supplies in as little as a day.


On April 1, 2007, the directive to evacuate five settlements in the former village of Yamakoshi (later part of the city of Nagaoka) was lifted. Residents were permitted to return to their homes after a span of nearly two and a half years.

The movie A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies was based on events that took place during this earthquake.


Niigata Prefecture has been hit by numerous earthquakes in recorded history. Notable recent ones include a large quake on June 16, 1964 that had a magnitude of 7.5, killing 28, where major liquefaction had occurred and tsunami destroyed the port of Niigata city.

There was also the 2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake, both striking shortly after major typhoons passed by, causing complications.

See also


  1. ^ a b 震度データベース検索(地震別検索結果) Japan Meteorological Agency(Japanese) Retrieval 2018/04/03
  2. ^ 平成16年10月23日 17時56分ころ発生した地震の命名について PDF File. Japan Meteorological Agency(Japanese)Retrieval 2018/04/03
  3. ^ 震度データベース検索(地震別検索結果) Japan Meteorological Agency(Japanese)Retrieval 2018/04/03
  4. ^ 震度データベース検索(地震別検索結果) Japan Meteorological Agency(Japanese)Retrieval 2018/04/03
  5. ^ 震度データベース検索(地震別検索結果) Japan Meteorological Agency(Japanese)Retrieval 2018/04/03
  6. ^ 平成16年(2004年)新潟県中越地震について(第15報) PDF File. Japan Meteorological Agency Date 2004/10/29, Retrieval 2018/04/03
  7. ^ Murphy, Robin (2014). Disaster Robotics. MIT Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780262027359.
  8. ^ 平成16年(2004年)新潟県中越地震(確定報) Fire and Disaster Management Agency(Japanese)Data 2009/10/21 Retrieval 2018/04/03
  9. ^ A brief history of earthquake warnings IEEE Spectrum 2007

External links

200 Series Shinkansen

The 200 series (200系) was a Shinkansen high-speed train type introduced by Japanese National Railways (JNR) for the Tohoku Shinkansen and Joetsu Shinkansen high-speed rail lines in Japan, and operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) until 2013. They actually predated the 100 series trains, having been built between 1980 and 1986. It was one of the two recipients of the 23rd Laurel Prize presented by the Japan Railfan Club, the first Shinkansen type to receive that award. The last remaining sets were retired from regular service in March 2013, and were completely withdrawn from service in April 2013.

A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies

A Tale of Mari and Three Puppies (マリと子犬の物語, Mari to Koinu no Monogatari) is a 2007 Japanese film directed by Ryuichi Inomata. It was released in Japanese cinemas on 8 December 2007. It is based on a true story in the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake. This story has frequently been reported in the media and has also made into a book.

Chūetsu region

Chūetsu region (中越地方, Chūetsu-chihō) is the name of an area in central Niigata Prefecture. The word chūetsu is an abbreviation for central Echigo Province.

It is an important rice-growing region. Koshihikari which had been grown in this region is highly prized in Japan.

In common with much of Hokuriku region, the region experiences heavy snowfall during winter, and many ski resorts dot the mountainous areas.

The main cities in the region include Nagaoka and Uonuma

The October 23 2004 Chūetsu earthquake, centred on Ojiya, killed 67 people in the region. The magnitude 6.8 quake caused the first ever derailment of a shinkansen.

Geology of Japan

The islands of Japan are primarily the result of several large ocean movements occurring over hundreds of millions of years from the mid-Silurian to the Pleistocene as a result of the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate beneath the continental Amurian Plate and Okinawa Plate to the south, and subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Okhotsk Plate to the north.

Japan was originally attached to the eastern coast of the Eurasian continent. The subducting plates, being deeper than the Eurasian plate, pulled Japan eastward, opening the Sea of Japan around 15 million years ago. The Strait of Tartary and the Korea Strait opened much later.

Japan is situated in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Frequent low intensity earth tremors and occasional volcanic activity are felt throughout the islands. Destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunamis, occur several times a century. The most recent major quakes include the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake and the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995. Hot springs are numerous and have been developed as resorts.

Great Hanshin earthquake

The Great Hanshin earthquake (阪神・淡路大震災, Hanshin Awaji daishinsai), or Kobe earthquake, occurred on January 17, 1995 at 05:46:53 JST (January 16 at 20:46:53 UTC) in the southern part of Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, when combined with Osaka, known as Hanshin. It measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale and had a maximum intensity of 7 on the JMA Seismic Intensity Scale. The tremors lasted for approximately 20 seconds. The focus of the earthquake was located 17 km beneath its epicenter, on the northern end of Awaji Island, 20 km away from the center of the city of Kobe.

Up to 6,434 people lost their lives; about 4,600 of them were from Kobe. Among major cities, Kobe, with its population of 1.5 million, was the closest to the epicenter and hit by the strongest tremors. This was Japan's worst earthquake in the 20th century after the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, which claimed more than 105,000 lives.

Heisei period

The Heisei period (Japanese: 平成時代, Hepburn: Heisei jidai) is the current era in Japan. The Heisei period started on 8 January 1989, the day after the death of the Emperor Hirohito, when his son, Akihito, acceded to the throne as the 125th Emperor. In accordance with Japanese customs, Hirohito was posthumously renamed "Emperor Shōwa" on 31 January 1989. Thus, 1989 corresponds to Shōwa 64 until 7 January, and Heisei 1 (平成元年, Heisei gannen, gannen means "first year") from 8 January. The Heisei period will likely end on 30 April 2019 (Heisei 31), the date on which Emperor Akihito is expected to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Jōetsu Line

The Joetsu Line (上越線, Jōetsu-sen) is a major railway line in Japan, owned by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East). It connects Takasaki Station in Gunma Prefecture with Miyauchi Station in Niigata Prefecture, linking the northwestern Kanto region and the Sea of Japan coast of the Chūbu region. The name refers to the old provinces of Kōzuke (上野) and Echigo (越後), which the line connects.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (柏崎刈羽原子力発電所, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa genshiryoku-hatsudensho, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP) is a large, modern (housing the world's first ABWR) nuclear power plant on a 4.2-square-kilometer (1,038 acres) site including land in the towns of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture, Japan on the coast of the Sea of Japan, from where it gets cooling water. The plant is owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

It is the largest nuclear generating station in the world by net electrical power rating.

It was approximately 19 km (12 mi) from the epicenter of the second strongest earthquake to ever occur at a nuclear plant, the Mw 6.6 July 2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake. This shook the plant beyond design basis and initiated an extended shutdown for inspection, which indicated that greater earthquake-proofing was needed before operation could be resumed. The plant was completely shut down for 21 months following the earthquake. Unit 7 was restarted after seismic upgrades on May 9, 2009, followed later by units 1, 5, and 6. (Units 2, 3, 4 were not restarted).

After the March 11, 2011 earthquake, all restarted units were shut down and safety improvements are being carried out. As of October 2017, no units have been restarted, and the earliest proposed restart date is in April 2019 (for reactors 6 and 7).

Kawaguchi, Niigata

Kawaguchi (川口町, Kawaguchi-machi) was a town located in Kitauonuma District, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.

As of 2003, the town had an estimated population of 5,549 and a density of 110.91 persons per km². The total area was 50.03 km².

During the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake, Kawaguchi was the only town to report the maximum value of 7 on the Japan Meteorological Agency seismic intensity scale.

On March 31, 2010, Kawaguchi was merged into the expanded city of Nagaoka.

Kenji Otsubo

Kenji Otsubo (Japanese: 大坪 賢次, Hepburn: Kenji Otsubo, born May 25, 1944) is a Japanese businessman.

List of disasters by cost

Disasters can be particularly notable for the high costs associated with responding to and recovering from them. This page lists the estimated economic costs of relatively recent disasters.

The costs of disasters vary considerably depending on a range of factors, such as the geographical location where they occur. When a large disaster occurs in a wealthy country, the financial damage may be large, but when a comparable disaster occurs in a poorer country, the actual financial damage may appear to be relatively small. This is in part due to the difficulty of measuring the financial damage in areas that lack insurance. For example, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, with a death toll of over 230,000 people, cost a 'mere' $15 billion, whereas in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in which 11 people died, the damages were six-fold.

Note: All damage figures are listed in billions of United States dollars.

Lists of earthquakes

The following is a list of earthquake lists, and of top earthquakes by magnitude and fatalities.

Ojiya, Niigata

Ojiya (小千谷市, Ojiya-shi) is a city located in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. As of 28 September 2018, the city had an estimated population of 35,876 in 12,758 households, and a population density of 230 persons per km². The total area of the city was 155.19 square kilometres (59.92 sq mi).

Place names in Japan

Japanese place names include names for geographic features, present and former administrative divisions, transportation facilities such as railroad stations, and historic sites in Japan. The article Japanese addressing system contains related information on postal addresses.

Sado, Niigata

Sado (佐渡市, Sado-shi) is a city located on Sado Island (佐渡島, Sado-shima/Sado-ga-shima) in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. Since 2004, the city has comprised the entire island, although not all of its total area is urbanized. Sado is the sixth largest island of Japan in area following the four main islands and Okinawa Island (excluding the Northern Territories).

As of May 1, 2017, the city has an estimated population of 55,474, and a population density of 64.8 persons per km2. The total area is 855.26 km2.

So Long! (AKB48 song)

"So Long!" (stylized as "So long !" with a space before the exclamation mark) is the 30th major single by the Japanese idol girl group AKB48. It is also AKB48's sixth cherry blossom-themed single, and its first single of 2013. This single was released in Japan on February 20 in four different versions.The 64-minute-long music video for the title track is directed by director Nobuhiko Obayashi. The Nippon Television network aired a 3-episode special television drama based on the title track from 11–13 February 2013.

Tsukayama Station

Tsukayama Station (塚山駅, Tsukayama-eki) is a railway station in the city of Nagaoka, Niigata, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

Yagai suigu

The Yagai-suigu (野外炊具 field cooker) are movable cooking facilities equipped by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. They are used not only in field trainings but also in disaster relief operations.

Yamakoshi, Niigata

Yamakoshi (山古志村, Yamakoshi-mura) was a village located in Koshi District, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.

As of 2003, the village had an estimated population of 2,035 and a density of 51.09 persons per km². The total area was 39.83 km².

On April 1, 2005, Yamakoshi, along with the town of Oguni (from Kariwa District), the town of Nakanoshima (from Minamikanbara District), and the towns of Koshiji and Mishima (both from Santō District), was merged into the expanded city of Nagaoka.

On October 23, 2004, Yamakoshi was hit by the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake.

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