Sept. 1, 1923 changed Japan forever when a devastating earthquake obliterated Yokohama and much of Tokyo, killing more than 140,000.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Loser episode is brought to you by Maloney cookies work. Sometimes that longs in yoga classes just now in the cards, so maybe a cookie is peppered farm. Olano believes you should make some time for yourself once in a while. I know I have a particular space in my sewing room that I like to just take a few minutes every day. Sit there. I think about things it's kind of like meditation and munching, at the same time being it that Yummy beautiful cookie flavour. It makes it luxurious and delightful and I always feel recharge. Mulatto cookies, Are truly a treat worthy of your me time, their delicate and crispy, with luxuriously rich chocolate in the middle? You really want to keep these Just for you so remember to save something for yourself with peppered farm Olano.
I just realized that the first letter of every line of this region spells help me. It seems like everyone's accredit these days blessing the world with our slightest opinions on our own many platforms, I'm scotch benefits, and I break this February. Tenth guns, citizen critic, a new podcast, where we predict the critics and review the reviews of your favorite movies, music television, toasters, toiletries in paint, colors, listen to citizens, critic on the eye, heart, radio, an apple pie, guests or wherever you get your bike casts. Will continue to be missing history class from house networks that come in, welcoming the count on how we fried and I'm Tracy Wilson and three will start by asking Tracy question: ok of Europe and in an earthquake
that I received. We know that these errors power wigs everywhere all the time and there are earthquakes bitter felt in Georgia, sometime over the last time there was an earthquake that was felt pretty soon In Georgia, I was a Massachusetts. That's right. So I was seeing all of these streets where my friends about the earthquake in areas like I have not their work and their showing weekly in Georgia. A lot of us didn't know what was going on, like I've literally thought that someone had slammed into like my neighbour's house, like a car, had collide collided with something the previous should this, when I was very small, I lived in the Pacific Coast say, would occasionally experienced one, but never like a huge one. However, people in Japan deal with earthquakes all the time. It's no secret that Japan is situated on one of the most dangerous positions are Globe has to offer its on. What's called them
fire and probably most ver listeners know about this, but just in case they doubt that is a horseshoe shape that runs the sort of around the Pacific Ocean. It goes from the southern Tipp of South America travels north along a north american coast. It crosses the bearing street, and then it travels down to New Zealand by way of Japan and that sort of odd horseshoe shape actually outlines. The meeting zones of various tectonic plates and the eurasian play meets up at the Pacific played in the Philippine play in the north american plate all along with Japan. sit. So, as you can imagine, with all of those plates rubbing together, the country is no stranger to earthquakes is actually estimated that Japan some level of earthquake at least every five minutes, and that they experience as many as two thousand quakes each year that are strong enough for humans to feel them. Twenty percent of the world's earthquakes that are classified as magnitude, six or greater, actually happened in Japan.
you consider how much actual landmass Japan has as compared to the rest of the world. You really get a sense of what a level of concentration that is today. The Tokyo Yokohama metropolis, which sits in the county region, is home to approximately thirty five million people. It's actually considered to have the highest earthquake risk of any metro area in the entire world. we're gonna chat about an epic tragedy that happening com to more than ninety years ago. It's! Thirdly, famous, although I think the it's been long ago that it kind of fades out of people's consciousness, they forget that this happens if they were directly involved in it or they don't have a cultural connection to it. So, in September, first, nineteen twenty three Japan basically changed forever
a completely devastating earthquake, obliterated Yokohama and much of Tokyo and more than a hundred forty thousand people were killed. I'm glad you decided to do this episode. Is it's been on my list of things that I wanted to talk about for a while, and it also plays a part. In the last me, Zaki movie called the wind rises that came out not long ago, which was the latest thing that made me. we should do in episode on this, and I haven't seen that we are learning to end. It is a really important touchstone in world. His We really and we'll get to sort of why, towards the end of the episode, but to start off, we will talk a little bit about. Yokohama
Tokyo and where they were assets in terms of development. When this happens, the port city of Yokohama was once known as the city of silk and it was depends first foreign settlement. It was founded as such in eighteen, fifty nine, and this was a little more than five years after the. U S, Commodore Matthew, Perry, who we mentioned in the kitchen episode. We being not me because I was not your then yeah- that when Sir and I were together- yes, so he landed in Japan and forced the opening of Japan to the west. Prior to this time, Yokohama has it had existed as just a quiet fishing village and when Yokohama establishment as a foreign settlement and the early nineteenth twenties the time that were dream up today. It really grew extremely quickly. It hid the veil, into a bustling city had a population of about half a million people, but all of that I meant that Yokohama had seen you know just six decades,
gone in a matter of hours of the day. The great quake hit at this timetable. Was already the capital of Japan and it was a huge metropolitan area that was recognised as a cultural intellectual hub, and it had also been experiencing a huge boon of industrialization and the time leading up to this. Yes, factories were popping up throughout the areas which are sometimes referred to as low Tokyo, the population city around those factories in those neighborhoods increase, significantly many of the people they were living. There were not surprisingly, factory workers, and many of them were looming at or below the poverty line in law in homes they were really kind of sub par in terms of construction. They were. There were a lot of sort of shacks and a lot of people living very closely together, so Tokyo had adopted building methods from the western world during the Maisie era and that ran from eighteen. Sixty eight
nineteen twelve, but even in spite of this development, there were still a whole lot of all wooden structures in the city and that left that extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. So at eleven for eight a m on September version, nineteen, twenty three, the first shock of the quake hit and At this hour, families were just sitting down to lunch, so people that have been at work in the morning had gone home in many cases. After the lunch time, our and the quake was reported by survivors is lasting about fourteen hands and in a very short period of time, even though that's a long time for a quick most of Yokohama buildings were completely brought down. Just in that first tremor, this quake originated sow the Tokyo near or she my island in the salami bay, and it was the result of the philippine plate colliding with the much larger eurasian plate and depending on the source. Its magnitude was somewhere between seven point. Nine and
wait two so that an extremely strong earthquake yeah in that time, even in Tokyo, which is a little bit north Yokohama, are, as we so often grouped together, is a metro area. More than half of the brig buildings collapsed estimated one tenth of the few steel reinforce structures that still exists that existed at the time were destroyed so already, just in that first quake range. There was a whole lot of destruction before we get to the really sort of harrowing and horrible things that happened or going to do a quick and from our sponsor. So we don't break up some kind of intense discussion of this sort of stuff you miss than history classes brought to you by the travel store. I have wanted to go to Alaska,
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wins fuelled the fires and help them to spread and spread extremely rapidly, so all of those open flames it were being used to prepared, in the last stages of lunch, basically just caused these huge fires, which led to incredible devastation. The buildings that had survived the tremor were largely brought down. It was extremely rough, its estimated that there were more than a hundred and thirty major fires, just breaking out Tokyo in the half hour following the first tremor. So whereas the initial quake took out most of Yokohama fires burned Tokyo City centre to the ground. And one of the most sort of horrifying and heartbreaking aspects of this fire. And this you know aftershocks of the earthquake was the development of this phenomenon that are called dragon twists, and these are basically fight
forty two hours twister's. That are nothing but fire and simple, one twister a fire swept over a makeshift camp where forty thousand people had run to seek refuge after the initial destruction and they were trapped therein burned to death by this thorny issue that went over them. Five different whirling firestorm swept across this collapse. Neighbourhoods of Tokyo and many I witness accounts of this horrible day- use the image,
We have hell on earth and their descriptions of the destruction and the horror yeah. If you read any eyewitness accounts or even people that have you no sort of had an oral history handed down through their families, they will almost all say that the people that talked about it called it hell- I mean it, it really was just nothing but fire and devastation and as fires in aftershocks were ravaging the city, panicked people attempting to evacuate really cause an additional problem, which is that there were bottlenecks forming from. austrian traffic and, basically, all the passages away from the city centre. So all the bridges all the streets, all the Alley ways just became impassively clogged with people and a lot of people burned to death, as they just stood trapped in these throng, unable to move in any direction from people tried to bypass the clog thoroughfares by jumping into this
the river and a lot of them round while trying to escape the city. This way, still other had never even of course, had time to run. They were incinerated in buildings that went up in flames with incredible speed. The fire is kept burning for at the two days did not have the resources. I mean, if you think, of any even modern city, if a hug in thirty major fires broke out in Atlanta today. I think our fire departments would be hard pressed to get those all under control in a quick manner. So you can imagine, in you know almost a hundred years ago, with the technology available at that time in a tightly crowded city how difficult it would have been to put out you know what started as a hundred.
fires and then I'm sure, expanded far beyond them. Well then, in addition to all the flames, the earthquake also caused a tsunami which added a whole additional layer of devastation to the coast of Japan. Yeah. This soon army reached an estimated thirty nine point, five feet in height, which about twelve metres in it crashed into the car. line along Salami Bay, and this caused, of course, additional property damage. It also killed more people.
Cars and even houses were completely swept away and mud mixed together with ashes in the streets to create even more mass and devastation that he had. Just basically, I mean it's I've seen pictures and we will link to pictures in the show notes. Some of them are a little bit difficult to look at if your sensitive, but it's just it, looks like something almost from a movie like. There is almost no frame of reference for me anyway of lake in terms of reality, what that must have been like? Incredibly and terrifying is very much an Armageddon scenario. We note that would be played out in modern cinema, but in the days after the disaster there was another horrific development that had nothing to do with nature. It was entirely man made so three days after this whole ordeal started riots broke out in Tokyo. Some newspapers were accusing
and who were living in Tokyo of looting and the newspapers insinuated that the Koreans have started the majority of the fires they were also allegations that groups of Koreans were poisoning the wells. So many of these allegations, are now believed to have to spend mere rumours that were presented by the newspapers yeah. This is a time of you know lot of crazy things going on. In presume, people were giving eyewitness accounts to the newspapers that maybe we're not accurate and. As survivors were struggling to keep going and get enough to eat and get enough you no water in conditions that would stress anyone to the breaking points. Unfortunately, Japan's korean population really became sort of the immigrant scapegoats and the focus of pent up frustration and grief and anger, and just the shock of what was
on our own, all of them, so basically, whether it was true or not, people believed the gangs of young korean men were going through the whole city and pillaging so counter gangs forms to patrol and deal out swift punishment Yeah accounts of some of the atrocities that took place during this time are really very disturbing. Accord to one american tourists who had been in the city when all this happened. For example, there the korean man, who was simply by virtue of being korean enough associated with these crimes that people believed were happening, was tied to a pole and is left there and basically he was beaten by all passers by as some sort of retribution for what they thought. He may have been a part of their also them conflicting accounts about some Koreans who were put onto boats and sent out into the harbour, and while some,
characterize this as an attempt to secure the safety of the people on the boots. Others insinuate. The intent was to send these people to their deaths as the boats caught fire out in the harbor, whether the fires, accidental or set on purpose. The people who were on the boats died the veto, had been oil rules and other flammable goals that were there on the docks that when the earthquake hits and the No sooner me, you know they were broken apart, and so there was this fishing on the surface of the water, which was very, very flammable, and so there are some accounts. The suggested people were actually tied up and put on the boats. Some just say that they were being pushed onto the boats, as treaty said, to try to save them like to get them away from the city where people were behaving. You know out of completely ramped up fear, but we don't really now. We only know that they all parents
Japanese socialists were also group with the Koreans, as traders and being identified as a member of either group was an instant death warrant. People were set upon in the streets and cut to pieces with swords or clubs to death. Please attacks were just ferocious and undoubtedly they came from the stress of the whole situation, but the atrocities then became a point of shame for a lot of people. One public official described these incidents, as quote major defects of the national Spirit and in the end, there were Only a hundred and twenty five vigilantes charged for all of these crimes, even though most historically council say that there were far more than a hundred twenty five people involved in these meetings, damning, say we're going on and out of those one hundred twenty five. Only thirty two of them actually received a formal sentence,
Ninety one were given suspended sentences and the and ninety percent of the homes and Yokohama were damaged or destroyed. Sixty percent of Tokyo population also lost their homes, you have. The entire metropolitan area was really plunged into lake, an epidemic of homelessness. At this point, and on September seconds, the? U S, Navy had vessels. China to sort of leader relief effort to try to help Japan and within a week Yokohama farmer was filled with ships, bringing relief supplies by the american relief efforts, provided One point seven million to Japan and that made up of roughly seventy percent of the total aid that they receive from other countries. When you think about how much Clean up was required. After all of this destruction, it quickly becomes really sobering. The clean up,
was monumental, but the whole area had to be surveyed because properly lines were completely erased, along with everything else in addition to tremor clear all Rebel wits, I mean at this point in the vast majority of these areas- were rubble and trying to figure out where things had been in terms of property. There was also the huge problem of the dead it because of the unprecedented numbers of bodies again remember, betraying about more than a hundred. Forty thousand people have died in this tragedy that had to be cleared and with the city set up fifteen different collection centres where bodies could be brought and they actually allocated several hundred city workers, and it was just their job to sort of collect bodies and help this effort, and then once that the bodies were collected and they tried to identify as many as they could, but that wasn't. I was possible site,
a corpse. Incineration had to be established, although the majority of the dead were all cremated near the area that had been the most drastically hit by fire to begin with, one of the most horrifying things that comes up in account, after account, is with the city smelled like during all of this. So you can imagine, on top of the tragedy and sort of the shock in the heart ache, just dealing with this really uncomfortable odor everywhere you went that just reminded you of what was going on. I can't even fathom. this episode of stuff you missed in history, glasses, brought you buy Sakharov three years are really good time to take stock and change your habits, because we all want to be our best selves and a lot of times. This is the time where we really try to make this those shifts in those changes that can make our wellness even better, and if you need some help in that area, a cholera is here to help along
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be a goal of all time, and in spite of this, almost unfathomable disaster, there was also some growth. Tokyo future was envisioned in the form of the supply of metropolitan mecca, and there was a national effort to fulfil this promise. Turkey is future, and, while many you know saw this as an opportunity to rebuild Tokyo as a shining new, modern city, there were a lot of arguments among government officials and the people about how that dream would be achieved in what it would actually look like you know it's one thing to, We want to rebuild it better than ever, but what that means to different people is gonna, be different things in that cousin strife. Urban planners social welfare advocates. There were activists who were politicians as always to citizens and me in any case,
we're all at odds over how they were all gonna move forward, what sort of spaces they needed to be included in city planning and how funds we're gonna be allocated. and additionally, the sort of further complicate. This is that, while most people wanted to kind of look at this as a blank slate, which, of course, I can't really be a lot of the people who have lost everything that had survived the disaster, really just wanted to try to go back to their lives as they have been and rebuild things, the way they were and they were so concerned. trying to build some new, better thing: they they just wanted what they had before. Then there was also the problem of where the money will come from. There was a reconstruction bill that was introduced December of nineteen twenty three and it proposed a budget of five hundred and ninety eight million yen. This did not meet with a lot of favour. The budget was only passed. Effort was reduced by a hundred and thirty million yen and in this six years,
Following the bills approval another two hundred and seventy million yen was a dish. really unencumbered for the reconstruction effort, but even that fear failed to meet even the most austere plans that were envisioned for the new Tokyo And there was another piece of legislation that came about during the December parliament meeting I wasn't people being trapped in the fires during the disaster, but, as you can imagine, a lot of citizens petition the government to keep more of their land during all the property Readjustment donors who were going to lose more than ten percent to meet the logistical me, the city planning he compensated, but only for that laws that extended above the ten percent that had been that this law allowed to be seized. This law was intended to rebuild the city in a logical manner. They wanted, to avoid
overly narrow streets and alleyways that have led to so many thousands of people being trapped in the fires during the disaster But, as you can imagine, a lot of citizens petition the government to keep more of their lands during all the property readjustment. So those requests also slowed down the government as they were reviewed you're. There were thousands of requests for, of course, nobody wants to give up one tenth of the property they own, even if it is for the greater good and fur better built city with a more effective in a sort of disaster plan situation. But in the end that most people, after chunk of their property and on the whole, this aftermath of the disaster was really filled with a lot of reflection. I think on everyone's part, particularly government
your ship over the future of not just the capital city, but the country as a whole, and it really opened up some dialogues about disaster, preparedness and evacuation planning, an city planning to support those ideas, and there are also some possibly surprising negative. That came out of all this national I really swelled, but it also. There was a lot of xenophobia that developed. There were alarmist articles that accused the United States, spearheading the relief effort to try to humiliate Japan,
and this growing unease and the desire for expansion after the quake, as frequently third cited as one of the catalysts for world WAR two years so didn't of course happen all at once. But it's kind of a lot of historians will point to it and say you know it was this sort of mindset that lead to decisions that ended up. You know with Japan trying to expand into China and that sort of setting off a lot of these world events. The nineteen twenty three disaster also had another should benefit, which is that its seated some new areas of scientific excellence,
Shin Anna, it caused a lot of countries, not just Japan, that Japan did a lot of it, so really explore new ways of predicting earthquakes and other natural disasters. So when you hear about like experiments done with lake animals in their sensitivity to tectonic movement, a lot of that really started because this earthquake happened so a lot of the the detection systems that we have today. This was sort of their genesis point where we're that technology started the developing and be really focused on by a lot of countries, because, as we have gotten bigger and more metropolitan and built more things, that means more things they can fall down and collapse and that people want to try to see if they can ahead of time. So that is the horrific event. Is nineteen? Twenty three,
but no Japan, it's also scary. When I look at pictures and like I said, will winked them. Ah I just I can't imagine it. I can't imagine what it would be like if I try to think about what what is that exacting thing? It couldn't be exactly the same. Obviously, but what of a similar thing happened? You know where I live. I don't even know how you collect yourself. After that you know. We certainly have had hurricane disasters happen in the U S, and in other countries mean there have been other disasters that twenty eleven Fukushima disaster in Japan cause a lot of people to look back, this event that is difficult to contemplate. I've been very why, because you gimme your waxing pensive yeah very distressing. It is
especially, I really get. Obviously any natural disasters horrible, but I get very choked out the sort of how humans dealt with it and and things got very violence at a time when you know, of course, people would ideally come together in sport each other, but that isn't always works when there is fear in the air. So we will instead switch over to Elinor meal from our listener address, and she says, as a french Canadians, I was happy to see your episodes on the chef as someone who receive their education in another province. I think I may be able to provide a response to a question. You posted the ended upon cast wondering how those of us in other parts of the country about him. I really like this letter. I will interact because Adrienne is french Canadians. She did ass, she said, get her education outside of Quebec. So it's an interesting perspective that we haven't quite seen before, which is why I wanted to read this she's as first
It speaks greatly to the place of Quebec and Canada that I learn more about its premiers than those of my home province, which was Manitoba. It could just be that collect premiers or simply more interest. however, any how what I did learn about diplomacy was fairly neutral. We learned that he was a premier who wielded is power broadly and the close association he had with the roman catholic church. However, much was done in the context of what was changed during the quiet revolution, which, again to interjected that period after Deplis, he was no longer in power, For instance, she says we learned about his church violations and then about how secularist Tibet became. I would also be very curious as to what they learn about connects political history. Income back education of history is so fascinating, whose history is being taught thought. I This note over to you to you, I mean she kind of brings the question that we always mention of the no history is told,
many different voices and they do not always have the same perspective. So the story, to my mind, usually the story is founded kind of having all of the different ways of looking at a thing to details kind of a deal themselves, although there always elements are never really fully clear. What the actual thing is that your mail, if you would like right ass, you can absolutely do that. We ve mentioned the border or email address, is changing, and that is now history Comcast how stuff works dot com. You can also connect with us on Facebook. There com, slash history, class stuff on twitter at missed in history and must in history that tumblr com and interests, dot com, flash in history, and if you would like to learn a little bit more about what we talked about today, you can go to a fight which is held a bookstore com type. The word earthquake into the search bar and you will get how earthquakes work. If you'd like to learn about that.
many other things, and many of the detection and modern science in that article, like I said, was sort of seated by this horrific tragedy, happily even learn about that and a whole lot more on our website with his household stock. more or less and thousands of other topics of works, this episode is brought to you by mulatto cookies. Look sometimes that long, then yoga classes, just not in the card, so many a cookie is peppered farm. Olano believes you should make some time for yourself once in a while. I know I have a particular space in my sewing room that I like to just take a few minutes every day. I sit there. I think about things it's kind of like meditation and munching at the same time being it that yummy,
beautiful cookie flavour. It makes it luxurious and delightful and I always feel recharge mulatto cook These are truly a treat worthy of your me time, their delicate and crispy, with luxuriously rich chocolate in the middle. You really want to keep the just for you so remember to save something for yourself with peppered farm Olano. available now from my heart, a new series presented by T Mobile for business. The right Less ones join me Jonathan, Strickland, explore the coming technological revolution would be restless business leaders who stand right on the cutting edge. They know there is a better way to get things done. ready, curious excited the next technological innovation to unlock their vision of the future in each episode. and more from the restless ones themselves and dive deep into how the five g revolution could enable their teams to thrive there,
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