I was busy working at my desk on August 8, 2013 at approximately 4:55pm when I felt a great disturbance in the Force. It was as if millions of mobile phones cried out at once.
And sure enough when I checked my own phone there was a message from the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) which read “Receiving Earthquake Warning. Be cautious for violent shaking.”
At the same time I got another message from the JMA in Japanese which offered slightly more information.
“Emergency Earthquake Report: Earthquake struck Nara Prefecture. Please prepare for strong shaking. (JMA)”
Never having had this foresight before, I summed up all I new about earthquake safety and prepared for the “violent shaking” by standing up and twirling around in a circle. However, aside from my own self-induced dizziness there wasn’t a single tremor to be felt.
Initial reports said that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake had hit Nara, but information was difficult to come by. Japan’s favorite portal site, Yahoo! seemed to have crashed from the entire nation hitting it at once. Finally, a few minutes later JMA released another statement.
“The early warning was announced because of this earthquake (4:56pm in Northern Wakayama Prefecture 2.3M)”
So it would seem this warning was a mistake as confirmed by countless Nara connected netizens who wrote.
“I’m in the northern part of Nara and I didn’t feel any shaking like an earthquake.（；^ω^）”
“I’m a Nara resident. I didn’t feel any shaking.”
“After receiving the bulletin I called my aunt in Nara and there was no shaking.”
“I’m in Nara but shaking didn’t happen.”
“In Nara, absolutely no quakes.”
This whole ordeal has left myself and probably many more with mixed feelings. It’s definitely important to have such a warning in place for certain situations. However, it did little to help me except induce early onset panic. I certainly wouldn’t fault the JMA either. Setting up a nation-wide system is a delicate matter and would be impossible to implement without a hiccup here and there. I just hope they straighten it out soon for the sake of my high blood pressure.