Japan Sinks
 Sakyo Komatsu
Language: English Release: 1995
Publisher: Kodansha International Pages: 238
Genre: Fiction ISBN: 4770020392

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Andrew Nguyen (submission)

Written after immense research from 1964 to 1973 by Sakyo Komatsu, Japan Sinks was a story about the possibility (though at times extreme) that the country of Japan undergoes a traumatic experience that literally destroys the entire country via the force of Mother Nature. When first published, Japan Sinks allowed Komatsu to win the 27th annual Japan Mystery Writers Association Award.

In terms of the plot, the book starts out following a small Japanese fishing boat that anchors near a small island off the southern coast of Japan. The next day, the anglers wake to see an empty ocean as the island literally disappeared beneath the waves. Geologists and specialists in deep-sea research begin to investigate the matter. However, the answer that they find stuns them all and will eventually stun the world as the evidence piles up that the island archipelago of Japan, one of the great economic powerhouses of the world, will sink into the Pacific Ocean. The race is on to save as much of the population of Japan before their physical homeland disappears forever.

The novel itself would appear in the US in 1976 with Michael Gallagher handling the translation of the novel into English.

Shortly after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995, the author allowed for a second abridged English version (which is the version reviewed here) to be published. Before the main story, there is a forward by the author as he talks about writing the book, his own experiences in relation to the Kobe quake, and the fact that the devastation drew comparisons to Japan Sinks.

Shortly after the book hit the shelves in Japan, Toho Studios would obtain rights to produce a movie version of the novel to huge financial success, commonly known as Submersion of Japan (1973). It would also start a trend of Japanese disaster movies during the rest of the decade. Eventually a television series would be produced by Jun Fukuda in 1974 and a remake, directed by Shinji Higuchi, would hit theaters in 2006, titled Sinking of Japan, also to huge financial success. Out of the two movies and the television show, the first movie would be the closest to the novel although it did have its own changes due to the actors involved in the movie.