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Among many features, Awaji Island (population about 160,000; area about 600 square
kilometers; high point about 600 meters) has the famed Naruto whirlpools to the
southwest and the very elegant Akashi-Kaikyō suspension bridge. We note in passing that
the bridge's main span is 1991 meters (by comparison the main span of the Golden Gate
Bridge in San Francisco is 1281 meters) making it the longest suspension bridge in the
world since its completion in 1998. We are obliged to point out that James D. Cooper
attended the opening ceremonies.
Awaji Island also contains a part of the infamous Nojima fault. Its last major event was the
Great Hanshin Earthquake of January 17, 1995. By some known as the Kobe Earthquake,
this Richter 6.8 event killed over 6,400 people, mostly in Kobe; left over 300,000 homeless;
and caused an estimated $100 billion in damage. Port facilities suffered major damage:
Kobe was the sixth busiest container port on the planet; it is now 45th - Singapore does
TEN times the volume. Significant portions of the Hanshin Expressway were unusable.
There were serious fires and there were long-lasting electricity shortages. Remarkably, the
bridge was lengthened by a meter. Economic historians will recollect that two aftermaths of
the earthquake were that the Nikkei 225 Index dropped 1,000 points in a day, and that
British financial giant Barings Bank collapsed.