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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Monday, 19 November 2007 21:29

Earthquakes Rattle Supply Chain

Written by  Shinji Hosotsubo & Nathan Lee Rhoden

When we think of Niigata prefecture in Japan, we think of exceptionally delicious rice, or perhaps the exceptional sake produced from that delicious rice, but not critical business infrastructure. However, when a series of large earthquakes struck the Chuetsu area last October, the business impact rippled across Japan. The first earthquake struck the area, about 125 miles northwest of Tokyo, at 5:56 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004. Then, just 16 minutes after the first 6.8-magnitude quake struck at a depth of about 10 miles, a second, much shallower 5.9 magnitude earthquake caused even further damage and more horrific shaking at 6:12 p.m. A third major aftershock arrived in rapid succession at 6:34 p.m., followed by a fourth at 7:46 p.m. During a period of four days, the area was rocked four times by 6.0 magnitude or greater earthquakes, and experienced 15 aftershocks strong enough to knock objects from shelves. In the