School of Letters, Graduate school of Humanities, Faculty of Humanities, Kyushu University

Notices on account of the earthquake in northern Japan’s Tohoku region

HOMENotices on account of the earthquake in northern Japan’s Tohoku region

NOTICE: APPLICATION DEADLINE DATE MOVED TO APRIL 21, 2011 in order to provide students with extra time to deal with any complications that might arise from using the currently over-burdened Japanese Postal System.

Dear prospective students,

The tragedy in the Tohoku region has deeply saddened all the staff and students at Kyushu University. Our hopes and prayers are with the victims of the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disaster. Although the University itself has already released a statement, the members of the Humanities Department also thought it important to express our condolences and to also reassure its foreign students that both Fukuoka City and Kyushu University sustained no damage from the quake and are far from the disaster zone.

In this difficult time, we are sure many students are hesitant to study in Japan. We recognize this concern, and have created the attached Q&A to help answer the questions that you might have. Also, due to the congestion in the Japanese Postal System caused by the quake, WE HAVE EXTENDED OUR APPLICATION FOR THE G30 PROGRAM BY 3 WEEKS (NEW DEADLINE: APRIL 21(Thu.)).

If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Akihiko Takagi, Dean and Professor
Graduate School of Humanities
Kyushu University

Q&A on Seismic and Nuclear Safety

The tragic earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan’s Tohoku region—in addition to the subsequent problems at the nuclear reactors in Fukushima—have understandably caused our students, program applicants, and their families to be greatly concerned about the health and wellbeing of individuals who study in Japan. However, due to a number of misunderstandings, we thought it best to do what we could to reassure everyone that we are doing all that is in our power to maintain the safety of our students. What follows is a Q&A to answer some of the most frequently asked questions by our students.

Q: What is the current status of Fukuoka in brief?

A massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0 occurred Friday, March 11, off the coast of the Tohoku region, causing heavy casualties (9737 are confirmed dead; 16,423 are still missing) and severe damage in both theTohoku and Kanto areas. Due to our distance from the hardest hit area, however, no damage was done to Fukuoka. There was no earthquake felt here, and the tsunami only raised our local water level by a few centimeters. In essence, Fukuoka has been unaffected physically by the earthquake and the subsequent disasters, although of course the indirect effects (such as the emotional concern we feel for our friends and colleagues to the north) are certainly significant. For example, our road and rail infrastructure is unaffected, Fukuoka is not experiencing any blackouts or power shortages, and food remains on the supermarket shelves (no lines or rationing like there is in the north).

Q: Is there a danger from the radiation of the Fukushima nuclear plants?

At this time, students in Fukuoka are not in danger from radioactive contamination. Fukuoka is essentially on the opposite end of Japan, as we are 650 miles [1,020km] west of Fukushima where the damaged nuclear power plants are located. According to MEXT (the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology), levels of radiation in the Fukuoka area are essentially the same as what they were prior to the earthquake. See the following site for MEXT’s daily monitoring of radiation levels in Fukuoka:
The same link demonstrates that drinking water remains uncontaminated in the area around Kyushu University. The sources of water are different than the Kanto region, so future contamination should not be a problem either.

Q: Are the students safe from earthquakes at Kyushu University?

While certainly few things in the world can be said with 100% certainty, the likelihood of the students being involved in a catastrophic quake similar to that which struck the Tokyo and Tohoku region is statistically very/incredibly low. The reason is that the Kanto plain (the region around Tokyo) sits on the border of three different tectonic plates, leading to far more quake activity than what we experience in Kyushu. The following is a set of images of the tectonic plates and their relationships from a study from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism:
You can obtain weekly updates on seismic activities in Japan as a whole from Japan Meteorological Agency:
A useful multilingual source of information can also be found at:

Q: What of dangers from Tsunami?

Fukuoka and Kyushu University are located on the sea, so certainly there is a risk of damage from a tsunami. However, because of the lower likelihood of an earthquake in Kyushu, the danger of a tsunami is also far lower here than it is in the north.

Q: Have there been any adverse effects on research and education at Kyushu University?

Our faculty members and students proceed with their research and studies as usual. Spring Semester shall begin on time as scheduled. We have also offered our help and support to universities and other research institutions located near the disaster sites. We have, however, decided to postpone a series of events planned for the celebration of the University’s 100th year anniversary out of concern for the sufferings of people in the hard-hit areas.

Q: Where can I get more information about radiation or food and water safety in Japan?

Here are some useful website sources of information regarding radioactivity and food and water safety (Source: Embassy of the United States in Japan)
National Institute of Radiation Science (NIRS):
Includes a series of "Basic facts regarding radiation exposure resulting from the nuclear plant accident caused by the Tohoku area earthquake.

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation, and Tourism (MLIT):
The English-language website includes a page on the Tohoku Earthquake with on measurements of radiation levels around the Metropolitan Airports, and around the Ports of Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki and Chiba, as well as transportation-related policies and information.

Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW):
The English-language website, under “topics,” has a listing for “Food Safety Information ” that includes two notices regarding Japanese policy and regulations on the handling of food possibly contaminated by radioactive substances.