Japan Warns Fukushima-Level Magnitude 9 Mega-Earthquake Could Strike

Policemen search for missing people after the 2011 quake-tsunami disaster in Namie, a no-entry zone in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on March 11, 2017. On Wednesday, Japanese government experts warned its citizens a mega-earthquake as large as the one that caused Fukushima may hit in the next 30 years. Getty

A mega-earthquake as big as Fukushima may strike Japan within the next 30 years, a government report has showed.

On Tuesday, the Japanese government's Earthquake Research Committee said in a revised report that there was a 70 percent chance that a magnitude 8 to 8.6 earthquake could hit eastern Hokkaido, Japan, Japan News reported.

The panel, headed by Naoshi Hirata, a professor at the University of Tokyo, also predicted that the possibility of a magnitude 9.0 class earthquake hitting the same location within the next 30 years was between 7 and 40 percent.

"We are hoping this report will help local municipal governments to make necessary preparations and raise households' awareness of disaster risk," Science and Technology Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

The report also outlined predictions for specific locations off the eastern coast of Hokkaido. A magnitude 8 to 8.6 earthquake is 70 percent likely to hit near Nemuro during the same time, and there is a 60 percent chance a quake will occur off the disputed Shikotan and Etorofu islands.

"I hope disaster preparations are reviewed based on the possibility that a super-gigantic quake like the one that struck the Tohoku region could also strike Hokkaido," Naoshi Hirata, a seismology professor at the University of Tokyo and chairman of the panel's Earthquake Research Committee, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

The predictions were based on data from the great East Japan earthquake, which hit Hongshu in 2011. Dubbed the most powerful mega-quake recorded in the country, the magnitude 9 shock caused subsequent tsunami waves that reached up to 130 feet in height and crashed 6 miles inland. Twenty-thousand people were killed or presumed dead.

An earthquake cycle takes between 340 to 380 years on average and the report noted that almost 400 years have passed since one hit the Kuril islands and Hokkaido region, reported the Japan Times. The panel believes one is long overdue.