Total insurable property value within the affected area is JPY 3.8trn

A large tremor struck northern Japan on Saturday, June 14 at 13:00 UTC, about 390 kilometers north of Tokyo, in the sparsely populated Iwate prefecture.

AIR Worldwide estimates that total insurable property value within the affected area—which spans four prefectures—is about JPY3.8trn.

However, it should be noted that take-up rates (the percentage of properties that actually carry earthquake insurance) are relatively low.

Both the USGS and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) have reported a moment magnitude of between 6.8 and 6.9 for the event. Depth was estimated at 10 kilometers.

“The earthquake occurred in a region of northern Japan where the Pacific Plate and the Okhotsk section of the North American Plate converge,” said Mehrdad Mahdyiar, director of earthquake hazard at AIR Worldwide.

“The Pacific plate moves west-northwest with respect to North America at a rate of 8.3 cm/yr. This is a region of upper-plate contraction. More than likely, it is also located within the complicated tectonics of the Ou Backbone Range, the site of several large earthquakes throughout recorded history, the largest of which occurred in 1896. That quake struck some 70km north of Saturday’s event and killed more than 200 people.”

“The focal mechanism indicates that the current event was a shallow thrust earthquake,” continued Mahdyiar. “It may have ruptured an active fault called the Detana Fault. Within a 100km radius, 15 earthquakes exceeding M6.0 have occurred since 1800; since 1900, there have been 56 exceeding M5.0.”

More than 470 aftershocks have followed Saturday’s quake, making it difficult for rescue workers to access roads and search for survivors. About 3,500 homes remain without water and some 3,000 households have no electricity.

A semiconductor plant in Iwate prefecture suspended production for 2 or 3 days. Elsewhere, in nearby Fukushima prefecture, the earthquake spilled radiation contaminated water from a collecting pool owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co, Asia's biggest power utility.

In Kurihara –the nearest sizeable town to the quake’s epicenter –most modern buildings remained intact, in large part due to the country’s strict construction codes.

According to information released today by Japan’s Fire Disaster Management Agency (FDMA), four structures collapsed and 6 others were severely damaged. In the current report, about 200 structures sustained some degree of damage from this event.