World News

Factbox: Japan's recovery from the 1995 Kobe earthquake

(Reuters) - Recovery from Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami will take years. While the damage is more extensive and the impact deeper than the 1995 Kobe earthquake, economists say that the earlier disaster offers a good point of reference for what recovery might look like.

The Kobe, or Great Hanshin, earthquake struck in the pre-dawn hours of January 17, 1995, with a magnitude of 7.3 near the city of Kobe, about 350 km (210 miles) southwest of Tokyo. It killed more than 6,400 people. Damage was estimated at $100 billion.

Here are some details on the Kobe damage and the recovery from it:


-- More than 120,000 structures fully or partially collapsed while 7,000 others burned. Power and water failed for the whole city; 80 percent of the people were without gas.

-- The port of Kobe, one of the world’s busiest, was destroyed.

-- Kobe Steel Ltd, now the country’s no. 4 steel maker, sustained about 110 billion yen of damage.

-- Some 80 percent of factories producing non-leather shoes were damaged and 50 percent of the region’s sake breweries were seriously damaged. Both were important regional industries.

-- Industrial production in the hardest hit region, Kinki, dropped nearly 5 percent in January from December, pulling down national industrial output by 2.6 percent.

-- Personal consumption, weak to begin with, dipped.

-- Electricity to Kobe was restored one week after the quake.

-- Some 600 shelters were operating by the end of January, housing more than 236,000 people.


-- National industrial output fell 2.6 percent month-on-month in January.

-- Output recovered aftewards, increasing 2.2 percent in February , 0.9 percent in March and 1.3 percent in April.

-- First quarter economic activity expanded at an annualized rate of 3.4 percent.

-- Much of Kobe’s water and gas services were restored.


-- In April and September, the government implemented stimulus packages. Supplementary budgets provided 3 trillion yen for reconstruction.

-- Private consumption, business investment and public investment picked up.

-- Gross domestic product grew at annualized rates of 3.2 percent and 3.9 percent, in the second and third quarters respectively, before a pullback when the economy shrank 0.6 percent in the last quarter.

-- Kobe instituted A three-year emergency housing reconstruction plan.

-- Sewerage services were restored to Kobe 135 days after the earthquake.

-- Evacuation shelters in Kobe closed on August 20, 1995.


-- Rebuilding continued to boost the economy in 1996 when annualized growth rates each quarter were 3.7 percent, 4.0 percent, 0.9 percent and 5.9 percent.

-- In April 1996, Kobe Steel reported a 10.6 percent increase in net sales in the 1995 fiscal year, attributing it to higher activity from quake restoration efforts.

-- Most ports were re-built by March 1997, but the volume of container cargo never recovered. In 2007, it was 85 percent of the 1994 level, a Kobe government report said.

-- Debris removal was completed by March 1998.


-- Non-leather shoe production in October 2007 was 78.8 percent of what it was in the same month of 1994, according to a Kobe government report.

-- Sake shipping figures in October 2008 were 40.4 percent of what they were in the same month in 1994.

-- Department store, market and shopping mall sales all remained lower than pre-quake figures.

-- Pre-quake population level does not recover for 10 years.

(SOURCES: Barclays Capital; UBS; Nomura; Government of Japan; Kobe city government; Kobe Steel; professor Stephanie Chang of the University of British Columbia)

Compiled by John Ruwitch