I Lived In JapanFor the first 6 months I lived in Tokyo, where they experience *tremors* several times EVERY day !
This happens because The main island is situated where 4 plates join. They are constantly re-aligning themselves, giving the *tremor* effect.
For the most part the average citizen doesn't notice them or worry about them......I imagine it is a bit like Tsumani alerts on Hawaii...locals generally ignore them .
However, I noticed the *locals* get very edgy when they don't feel them regularly, because this means there may be a big quake rather than a rumble.
I can remember teaching a class of children and the kids mouth's dropping open as they watched the light fittings above my head begin to sway vigorously ! ( guess my lesson wasn't that interesting)
When the earthquake hit Kobe in January 1995, the Japanese, who pride themselves on being prepared (because they live with daily tremors ) found out that they were so helplessly under prepared, they were embarrassed !
Shinkansen (Bullet train) tracks and the highway into Kobe, snapped like toothpick in several places, ( they were built to withstand earthquakes) Houses burned to the ground because the building materials and style hadn't changed since the BIG Tokyo Quake decades earlier,even though they were post-quake built ! THEN to make things worse, the Government took FOUR DAYS to get emergency supplies into the city.
Kobe is the home of the Yukuza (Japanese Mafia) and THEY threw their doors open and gave away food, water and blankets to anyone who wanted them....the queues went around blocks.
Kobe looked like it had been stomped on by Godzilla and them vomited upon.
The Japanese did not handle the emergency with the focus and precision you would imagine......they let areas of Kobe burn, as *ethnic cleansing* , this caused outrage as firefighters admit being ordered to "let it burn"
The Americans offered to anchor an aircraft carrier in the port so the Japanese could use it as an emergency hospital, but the Japanese pride got in the way, and they refused the help.....I'm absolutely sure many people died unnecessarily as the result .
Many foreign companies base their offices in Kobe, so much of the staff are non-Japanese. The most common reaction to the lack of focus by the Japanese Government was simply to use helicopters to fly staff and families to either Osaka or Nagoya airports where everyone was flown to Hong Kong and dispatched home until the infrastructure was sufficiently repaired to begin business again.
Funny outcome: 4 of the world's top banks have their head office in Tokyo, and the government had been spending years trying to get these banks to de-centralize to Kobe because one big earthquake in Tokyo could ruin the world banking situation as we know it !