Japan Earthquake a Test of Preparedness

Citizens reacted quickly to Friday morning tremblor


For thousands of people living in the region of Japan devastated by last year's triple disaster, Friday's earthquake served as an unwelcome reminder of their vulnerability to sudden, violent seismic shifts – and as a warning to the rest of the country.

But thanks in large part to the sheer force of the March 11 tragedy, and painful memories of its human toll, people in the vicinity of the quake's epicenter knew what to do as soon as TV stations issued a tsunami warning: Drop everything and head to higher ground.

As darkness descended, the sense on this occasion was one of relief, not the despair of 21 months ago. Two hours after the northeast coast was rattled by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake at 5:18 p.m. local time, it appeared that the region had escaped unscathed.