A 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck near the northeastern coast of Japan on Tuesday, the same day as Japanese officials boasted of the country’s safety after putting forward a bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake struck about 41 miles from Miyako-Hachinohe, at a depth of 24 miles, at 07:51:31.56 UTC. There were no reported injuries or damage due to the earthquake, Friendly Forecast said, and no evacuation warning was issued.
The earthquake was not widely reported, and small quakes are common for the island-nation; however, it did come at a potentially inconvenient time publicity-wise for Japan -- the nation has been painting itself as structurally sound in its campaign to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
On Tuesday, after submitting Japan’s official bid to host the games, Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda addressed concerns about the nation’s preparedness in the face of a potential earthquake to rival the catastrophic quake that struck the country on March 11, 2011.
According to the Japan Daily Press, Takeda guaranteed that the Tokyo would be able to withstand a disaster of equivalent proportions due to its “rigid architectural standards.” Takeda also emphasized that much of the catastrophe in 2011 resulted from the ensuing tsunami and that Tokyo Bay is far less vulnerable to such events due to its geography.
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"No one can predict when and where a quake will strike. It can happen anywhere in the world," Takeda in an interview with Kyodo News. "The important thing as a nation is to be as ready as you can be if and when it does occur."
"During the March 11 quake, buildings in Tokyo withstood everything. No one died. We've been saying the facilities in Tokyo can and will hold up, and the metropolitan government is very aware how quake-proof they must be."
He added that Tokyo “will be sturdier than ever in 2020."
Tokyo is under consideration as a strong contender for the 2020 Summer Games, and the country has been evaluated more highly than its previous bid for the 2016 Olympics, which went to Rio de Janeiro; a technical report issued by the International Olympics Committee last year described Japan’s bid as “a very strong application.” Yet, the threat of future earthquakes continues to be a source of concern and anxiety for many Japanese.
Last week, the Guardian Express reported that Japan experienced 12 earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 4.1 during the first three days of 2013, compared to five earthquakes during the same time period at the beginning of last year.