One year after the earthquake in Japan: A review of the disaster and its consequences

2012/03/07

One year ago, on 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake hit Japan; it was the most powerful earthquake ever to strike the country and unleashed a catastrophe. Since then, thousands of aftershocks have occurred, the strongest with a 7.9 magnitude. Munich Re reviews the catastrophe and its consequences.

Munich. One year after the mega-quake, Munich Re's earthquake experts are in the process of redefining the risk situation in Japan. They are proceeding on the assumption of increased seismicity over a period of several years. In the region hit last year, earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 7 on the Richter scale are to be expected with a high degree of probability. The analysis has also arrived at the overall conclusion of an increased risk for the region around Tokyo.

Ludger Arnoldussen, Munich Re Board member responsible for the Japanese market: "The probability of a medium-sized earthquake with a magnitude of 7 and epicentre in the greater Tokyo region has risen significantly for the coming years. In view of the concentration of values in this area, our assessment must also have consequences for underwriting." In the constructive negotiations in respect of treaty renewals in Japan as at 1 April 2012, the findings gained will be translated into concrete requirements for adapting to the loss expectancy. Natural catastrophe business will therefore be a prominent feature of the renewals. Munich Re expects prices to continue rising.

Torsten Jeworrek, Munich Re’s Reinsurance CEO: "The earthquake in Japan with all its consequences has shown that very extreme events can and will occur. Societies must be prepared for this. And such events offer the opportunity for raising awareness in dealing with risks. As major risk carriers, we not only play our part by evaluating such risks but also contribute to recovery and reconstruction after disasters with our payments."

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