Due to the huge time difference between Europe and Japan, I cannot manage to watch most of the EURO 2008 games. If one is to watch these games here in Japan, he has to be awake the whole night, a thing that I cannot do during the week because I have to be in my Japanese language class at 9am every morning. But as weekend approached, I purposed to stay awake the whole night on Friday in order to watch the Italy vs Romania and the Holland vs France games. My major interest was in the latter because I wanted to watch the fancy footwork and flair of the Dutch masters and as expected they did not disappoint me. 4-1 in favour of Horanda, it ended!!!

I spent the whole of Saturday morning in bed. I woke up around 14:00.After that, I checked my RSS feeds just like I usually do when I come online. I was shocked to learn that a 7.2 magnitude earth quake had hit the Northern part of Honshu Island at about 08:45 local time.

Epicentre of the earthquake (BBC photo)

Road distroyed by earthquake in Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture, Japan (Rueters/Kyodo photo)

Japan earthquake

A road destroyed by the earthquake near Kurihara City, Miyagi Prefecture (Xinhua/Reuters photo)

My colleagues who were awake by that time told me that they experienced a little bit of shaking in their rooms here in Tokyo. It has now been reported that nine people have lost their lives while four more are feared burried by a mudslide at hot spring near the town of Kurihara in the Miyagi region. BBC further reports that twelve people are missing while more than 200 are injured. This earthquake comes hot on the heels of the Sichuan earthquake which hit Southwest China, killing tens of thousands of people and leaving millions homeless, last month. In the same month of May, Burma (Myanmar), another Asian nation, experienced a strong tropical cyclone that caused the deadliest natural disaster in the recorded history of the country.You will also recall that, in December 2004, an underwater earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing more than 225,000 people in eleven countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand were hardest hit.

Most nations in the Asia-Pacific region have worked very hard to transform their economies and have eventually become highly competitive in global economic affairs but these natural disasters continue to pose as a huge threat to them. It is, therefore, my call to the world to pray for this region so that God, the creator of heaven and the earth, must save it from these natural disasters. Remember He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Luke 8:24 records that Jesus rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. This happened after His disciples had cried for His help. I think we can also follow the disciples’ example by crying to Him and He will surely save this region from these disasters.

On the other hand, I also pray that in the area of technology and innovation, there will be some ground breaking disaster detection mechanisms which will be able to detect that an earthquake or cyclone is going to hit an area early enough so that people can have ample time to ensure their safety and minimize damage. Last year, the Japanese made a huge step in that direction by developing a warning system that alerts the public before the earthquake strikes. This system has the capability to issue warnings from a few seconds to tens of seconds. Although the period is very short, it could still make a difference. But in order to make a bigger difference, it would be great if the warning period can be lengthened (i.e. to hours, days, weeks, moths and even years). It is my hope that the Japenese government and the private sector will invest more money in this sort of research and development in order to increase the warning capability. I also hope that many talented researchers will join this kind of research.I am sure something great can be achieved by incorporating some theories from Computational Intelligence (Artificial Neural Networks, Fuzzy Logic, Swarm Intelligence…) in the detection mechanism. I am somehow being tempted to focus my research in that direction because I see that taking such a direction will have a huge impact on mankind.