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Writing a Kobe earthquake case study

If you are asked to write a Kobe earthquake case study, you need to do some very thorough research into the event. Use several sources and cross check the information they contain. Check to find out if you can use Wikipedia as sometimes you are told not to because the information given may not be totally reliable. However, you should read the article and follow the references given at the end of it. These can be very useful for your research.

You will quickly realise that the Kobe earthquake is actually called the Great Hanshin earthquake, or, to give it its full name in Japanese, Hanshin-Awaji Daishinsai the “Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster.”


Following the quake, fires swept the area, so help outside was needed from outside Kobe to extinguish them. People also formed bucket brigades to combat the flames.

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For all case studies you need to write you should remember to address the following questions: -

  • What is the event you are writing about?
  • When did it occur?
  • Where was its location?
  • Why did it occur?
  • Who was involved or affected by it?

For this particular case study, you could also mention what the effects were for the wider Japanese society, and for the world in general. For example, the lax building codes and an inadequate early warning system were criticised, and so these issues were rectified following the earthquake.

So, let’s think about the first question and its answer. Then we can explore the answers to the other questions.

1) The event was the Kobe earthquake, and you should also supply the alternative names for it in Japanese and the English translation. Mention precisely what happened and present some facts and figures, such as: -

  • It registered at 7.3 on the Richter scale.
  • It continued for 20 seconds.
  • Its epicentre was the island of Awaji located, to the east of the Inland Sea. The island lies just off the coast near Kobe (hence the name). The focus of the quake was approximately 10 miles, or 16 kilometres, below the surface of the Earth.
  • The death toll was estimated at 6,400.
  • 40,000 people were injured.
  • After the quake 300,000 became homeless.
  • More than 240,000 homes were damaged.
  • Millions of homes were left without electricity and water.
  • It was the worst earthquake Japan had experienced since the one that struck Japan in 1923. That was called the Great Kanto earthquake or the Tokyo-Yokohama earthquake. That one left an estimated 140,000 dead.
  • The damage, in total was estimated at $200 billion dollars (US).

2) As for when it occurred, the date was the 17th January 1995. It struck at 5.46 am and was one of the biggest earthquakes that Japan had experienced.

3) It was located in the Hyōgo prefecture, which is in the west-central district of Honshu.

This is a densely populated area. In fact, it is home to more than 11 million people. It is the second largest urban area in Japan.

Japan is located within the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire.’

4) It occurred because of the movement of the tectonic plates that lie under the sea.

5) The people who lived in the area were adversely affected by the quake.

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