Japan Disasters, January 2024

Japan Society sends sympathy and good wishes to all those affected by the early January disasters in Japan.

The new year did not begin the way anyone wanted in Japan, with the twin disasters of the Noto Peninsula earthquake and the crash at Haneda Airport. With more than 200 confirmed dead from the earthquake among ongoing rescue efforts and massive infrastructure damage, and five dead from the Coast Guard relief plane that collided with the JAL passenger plane landing from Sapporo—given the scale of both incidents it could have been much worse. The earthquake that struck Ishikawa was similar to the one in Turkey that killed over 50,000 people and the fact that all 379 passengers of the passenger flight got out of a burning plane in 15 minutes without loss of life is reason not just for relief but stubborn optimism in Japan.

In these tragedies I see both a silver lining and a uniquely Japanese reason for optimism. Resiliency and bending adversity is built into the DNA of the Japanese almost from birth, as natural disasters are a factor of everyday life. The plane crash and evacuation are being called miraculous by many experts for the much bigger disaster that was avoided. Therefore, while an earthquake and plane crash are not the kind of omens with which anyone wants to start the New Year, there is room for stubborn optimism in Japan and a resiliency that I’m confident will continue to inspire us all—as the JAL airline crew heros and rescue workers continuing to serve in Ishikawa demonstrate.

To help support the victims of the January 1st, 2024 earthquake in Japan, please donate directly to Peace Winds here. Peace Winds dispatched its ARROWS disaster medical team to Ishikawa Prefecture almost immediately on January 1 with a 19-person team of doctors, nurses, and disaster professionals on the ground with helicopters and rescue dogs doing search & rescue and providing medical care. They will be posting day by day updates on the response in English on this page, and also link to donation portals and other info.

Joshua W. Walker
President & CEO
Japan Society





Image © George Hirose.