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Residents' Reactions to Earthquake Early Warnings in Japan

Kazuya Nakayachi, Julia S Becker, Sally H Potter, Maximilian Dixon
Risk Analysis: An Official Publication of the Society for Risk Analysis 2019 March 29
This article empirically examines the effectiveness of earthquake early warning (EEW) in Japan based on experiences of residents who received warnings before earthquake shaking occurred. In Study 1, a survey (N = 299) was conducted to investigate residents' experiences of, and reactions to, an EEW issued in Gunma and neighboring regions on June 17, 2018. The main results were as follows. (1) People's primary reactions to the EEW were mental, not physical, and thus motionless. Most residents stayed still, not for safety reasons, but because they were focusing on mentally bracing themselves. (2) Residents perceived the EEW to be effective because it enabled them to mentally prepare, rather than take physical protective actions, before strong shaking arrived. (3) In future, residents anticipate that on receipt of an EEW they would undertake mental preparation as opposed to physical protective actions. In Study 2, a survey (N = 450) was conducted on another EEW issued for an earthquake offshore of Chiba Prefecture on July 7, 2018. Results were in line with those of Study 1, suggesting that the findings described above are robust. Finally, given people's lack of impetus to undertake protective action on receipt of an EEW, this article discusses ways to enhance such actions.


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