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The Great East Japan Earthquake: lessons learned, 10 years on

Swiss Re
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The Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and ensuing tsunami took more than 18 000 lives and wreaked untold damage.

The key takeaways of this edition are:

  • The 2011 earthquake exceeded assumptions of Japan's authorities in terms of magnitude and ground motion intensity.
  • Total economic losses from the quake and ensuing tsunami were the highest ever resulting from any natural catastrophe in the world.
  • The experience led to strengthening of already-high standards of disaster mitigation in Japan.
  • It also prompted insurers to embed secondary perils like tsunami in catastrophe modelling for better risk assessment.
  • Even so, the earthquake protection gap in Japan is USD 25 billion, the second largest in the world.
  • Insurers need to extend their reach if they are to help households and businesses be more resilient against earthquake risk in the future.