"But what about the quakes and the radiation!" is the first thing that has come out of every one of my friends and families' lips that I've told about applying. And I just roll my eyes.
Everyone here is basically saying the same thing. A chance to live in Japan for a year is ABSOLUTELY worth the (kind of minute) chance that you'll find yourself caught in the middle of some horrendous natural disaster.
I grew up on the coast of Texas. Hurricane Rita, which was basically the less famous twin sister of Hurricane Katrina, was aimed directly at my hometown, Corpus Christi. It was totally going to slam my city, until an air pressure system pushed it up to hit Galveston area. And it wreaked some pretty good havoc. I went to Galveston a few years after and they were STILL rebuilding the beach fronts, but, it was NOTHING compared to the damage that New Orleans suffered from Katrina. New Orleans was leveled and still to this day have entire blocks of houses that have been abandoned and condemned, waiting for demolition.
Now here's the kicker. Rita was just as STRONG if not a little bit more so, than Katrina. Rita sustained at a full Category 5 for 24 hours and Katrina only sustained for 18 hours as a Category 5. Katrina wasn't even a Category 5 when she hit New Orleans, she was a THREE. Rita also landed as a three, but Rita's highest wind speed was 180 mph and Katrina's 175 mph. The death toll (both direct and indirect) of Hurricane Rita was 120 and the death toll of Katrina? Over 1,800. So, why, did two hurricanes almost as equally strong as each other have such drastic differences in damage levels?
The answer is the government systems surrounding the cities.
Both Galveston, Corpus Christi, and pretty much the entire Texas coast have had their fair share of devastating Hurricanes. The most infamous would be the Hurricane of 1900 which absolutely leveled Galveston and wracked up a horrific death toll of somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000. Another one would be the Hurricane of 1916 which struck as a category 4 somewhere south of Corpus with a death toll of 24. Significantly lower because the Texas Government witnessed the tragedy of the 1900 Hurricane and went, "OH. CRAP. That's a big angry ocean we have as a neighbor, let's keep that thing in check." They had a seawall built around Galveston by 1905 and one built up around Corpus by they early 1920s after it had its own round with a deadly hurricane or two. They quickly recognized the force they were dealing with and over time and tons of encounters, we've almost perfected the art of hurricane survival. Florida is another fantastic, if not better, example of a state who has their stuff together.
Louisiana has seen its fair share of hurricanes, 49, to be exact between 1851 to 2004 (Texas' hits reach well over this number) but, have never really done anything to prevent cities like New Orleans from washing away. The levees were built to protect the city, but for YEARS safety has been (at least) questionable. Everyone knew they wouldn't hold a substantial flood and that's just what Katrina brought. New Orleans is essentially a geographical fish bowl, the city rests in a valley that dips BELOW sea level. The levees were the rim of the bowl and when they broke, the entire city filled up. THAT'S what killed all those people. Not mention rioting, the horrors that went on in the Superdome, the fact that people would not leave their homes, and an extremely disorganized evacuation executed by the city. I'm not even sure if the state has a system of hurricane evacuation routes (which Texas totally does on every major highway in or around the coastal area).
Point in case is, it's all about whether a government has acknowledged what type of natural disasters their areas are prone to and if they've done something to ensure their people will be as safe as possible. Japan is the dictionary definition of doing this, their government has done everything they can possibly do to ensure the safety of their people and are still coming up with more ways each day. Natural disasters happen EVERYWHERE, there is no escaping them. Sometimes the Earth just has to remind us who is boss, but that does not mean we have to coop ourselves up in fear. How will you ever experience the world?!
Personally, natural disasters fascinate, if not completely excite me. To me, its like witnessing mother nature at her finest and in some ways her most beautiful. The one hurricane I've been through (Hurricane Bret, a category 4, hit south of Corpus) humbled me and left me in awe. The night it hit, I begged my mom to sleep in our sunroom which had huge windows on three of the walls that reached all the way to the ceiling. I wanted to have the best view of the storm and I did. And it was a beauty.