A tsunami warning threatens Japan. Authorities believe a 3 meter Tsunami, set off by the recent 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Chile, could wash over Japan. A small 10 centimeter wave has already flooded Minamitori, a small island 1,950 kilometers south of Tokyo. Coastal residents on the Pacific side of mainland Japan have been warned by the Japan Meteorlogical agency to evacuate, leaving 245,000 people displaced.
This was the first severe tsunami warning issued in Japan in 17 years. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama reported: "Carelessness could be the biggest enemy. In the past, even if the waves were not so big, there has been great damage with 2-metre high tsunami."
Many roads in Japan have been closed. Train services on Japan's Pacific coasts have been canceled.
Onagawa and Higashidori nuclear plants, operated by Tohoku Electric Power, is still functioning on Japan's Northern Pacific coast. A representative from Tohoku Electric Power stated the tsunami will not adversely affect operation of the nuclear power plant.
Police cars and fire trucks are patrolling the areas of Japan's coast. Authorities have ordered sea gates to close in an attempt to protect the small harbors at greatest risk of the tsunami. Fishing and other boats were also sent out to sea, with snow falling in some places, for protection from the potential waves.
Fifty years ago, in May of 1960, 140 people were killed by tsunami following a similarly devastating earthquake in Chile. The 1960 tsunami stuck the northernmost island of Hokkaido. A 30 meter tsunami wave in 1993 claimed the lives of 190 people after an earthquake struck the same region. Many advances in the tsunami warning system may protect residents from a similar disaster.