Video shows earthquake in Japan’s Ishikawa, not ‘tremor near Fukushima’

Footage that appears to show a residential area being shaken by an earthquake in central Japan on January 1, 2024 has resurfaced in social media posts that falsely claimed it showed footage from a quake that struck in the East Asian country’s northeast on April 4. The tremor in central Ishikawa prefecture killed more than 240 people and laid waste to houses and infrastructure, whereas there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries after the April 4 jolt near the Fukushima region.

“Earthquake in Japan, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck off northeastern Japan’s Fukushima region on Thursday, April 4, 2024,” read the caption alongside a Facebook reel viewed more than 9,000 times after being shared on the same day.

The video appears to show houses violently shaking while a large plume of dust rises in the background.

<span>Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on April 8, 2024</span>

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on April 8, 2024

The video was also shared on social media platform X and TikTok, and was included alongside other clips on Facebook.

It circulated online after Fukushima was hit by a magnitude 6.0 earthquake.

Japan is one of the world’s most tectonically active countries and experiences around 1,500 jolts every year, the vast majority of which are mild.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries after the earthquake, whose epicentre had a depth of 40 kilometres (25 miles) and which was also felt in the capital Tokyo.

The video, however, does not show footage from the April quake.

New Year’s Day quake

A reverse image search on Google using keyframes from the video led to a similar clip published by Japanese public broadcaster NHK on January 1, 2024 (archived link).

Its Japanese-language caption reads: “Video from a camera installed by NHK on the roof of Suzu City Hall in Ishikawa Prefecture shows some houses with peeling Japanese roof tiles and what appears to be a collapsed building in the background.”

A timecode visible at the bottom of the video indicates it was taken at around 4:10 pm on New Year’s Day in 2024. The Japanese-language text overlaid on the clip also says it was filmed at the Suzu City Hall in Ishikawa.

The magnitude-7.5 earthquake and its aftershocks devastated parts of the Ishikawa region on the Sea of Japan coast, toppling buildings, ripping up roads and sparking a major fire.

As of April 2, the quake’s death toll was 245 (archived link).

Posts that shared this footage in April 2024 mirrored the NHK clip and cropped out the timecode.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video used in the false posts (left) and the NHK video (right), with corresponding elements highlighted by AFP:

<span>Screenshot comparison of the video used in the false posts (left) and the NHK video (right)</span>

Screenshot comparison of the video used in the false posts (left) and the NHK video (right)

The NHK footage was also used by international media — including the Philippines’ ABS-CBN News Channel, US broadcaster NBC News and Canada’s CTV News — in video reports about the New Year’s Day quake (archived links here, here and here).

The footage matches Google Street View imagery near Suzu City Hall (archived link).

AFP has previously debunked misinformation related to Japan’s January 1 earthquake here, here and here.

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