This is a novel I had on a reading list many many years ago and only recently discovered I still had a digital copy hiding in my archives. For many readers Japan Sinks is an exciting and devastating narrative. For others, less so: it is science fiction or perhaps more accurately, speculative fiction. The plot is simple: a shift in the earth’s tectonics causes Japan to slide into the depths of the ocean.
Japan Sinks makes a great movie: death, destruction, earthquakes, volcanoes, mass evacuation, heroes, but no Godzilla. I understand there is to be a Netflix anime treatment coming up later this year as well as the earlier film treatments.
What struck me about Japan Sinks was how the Japanese government responded to the imminent threat of the total loss of the Japanese homeland and the projected death of millions of its citizens. Oh, at first the threat was withheld from the populous, but more so to avoid panic. It soon became imperative that the government considered the saving of people’s lives more important than even the physical destruction of the country or even the national identity of the Japanese people.
It might be argued that in the face of such an unspeakable horror, the current administration in the United States would be more concerned with protecting those involved with corporate profits, government corruption, big-money donations, membership in the local crime family, self-aggrandizement, and lying. How many regular citizens would be loaded onto planes and flown to safety in the Azores or Saudi Arabia? How many postal workers, practical nurses, grocery store clerks, hair dressers, waiters, bartenders, teachers, caregivers, artists, writers, musicians would be saved?
How much of the American continent would have to slide into the sea or how many of the wide-eyed citizens would have to die choking and alone, before the political powers would even admit there is a problem?
Note: Checking my records it seems I originally read Japan Sinks back around 1973 in my trial scifi phase. I’m sure my reaction then was far different from my reaction today.