Japan’s Quake-Proof-Building Makers Prepare for Bigger Shocks

As Japan’s record earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, Hidenori Tsukatani crawled under his desk and thought to himself: Now we will find out.

Tsukatani, a 60-year-old structural designer at Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei Inc., has spent 35 years studying ways to make buildings that can withstand earthquakes so powerful they occur only once in every 500 to 1,000 years.

“People experienced such a big earthquake for the first time and felt scared, but the intensity of the quake in Tokyo was less than half of what we had simulated for our buildings,” said Tsukatani, a general manager at the unit of Mitsubishi Estate Co., Japan’s second-biggest developer. “I remember staying under my desk and watching the walls and the ceiling.”

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Japan’s Internet proves quake-proof

As silver-linings go, it may not be much; but it is remarkable to learn that Japan’s Internet barely skipped a beat after last week’s devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami and aftershocks.

Physical damage did occur to network infrastructure, but within hours the self-correcting architecture of Japan’s Internet routed around it and information flowed freely. Keep in mind that this damage coincided with a massive surge in Internet use, as users around the world suddenly began demanding live video and other data from Japan.

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