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Clips of old disasters in Japan compiled to depict Jan 1 quake aftermath

A misleading TikTok video has passed off footage from two previous disaster events as the aftermath of the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck the Noto Peninsula in western Japan on Jan. 1 and triggered tsunami waves in the region.

TikTok user @bruna490 uploaded on Jan. 2 a compilation of three video clips with the caption:

Ang unang kalamadid ng mundo ngayong taon 2024 (The first world calamity in 2024). Japan Tsunami after big earthquake. #japantsunami2024 #japanearthquake #japan #tsunami #earthquake 

The text written atop the first clip from the 0:01 to 0:19 mark reads, “Japan Tsunami 01-01-24.” 

However, a Google reverse image search found that the clip was originally taken from a YouTube video uploaded by user “wngad869” on March 18, 2011, a week after a 9.1-magnitude earthquake hit the northeast coast of Honshu in northeastern Japan. 

The undersea earthquake, known as the Great East Japan Earthquake, caused a tsunami and a nuclear accident that killed at least 18,000 people.

A comparison of the 0:06 mark of the TikTok video and the 8:43 mark of the YouTube video shows a corresponding scene of rapid waters flooding a coastal area.

The misleading clip was drawn from a YouTube video uploaded in 2011 a week after a 9.1-magnitude earthquake shook Honshu.

Google Maps locates the port shown at the 2:05 mark in the original video to Aomori in northern Japan.

A reverse image search also shows that the two succeeding clips in the TikTok video were both culled from a YouTube video uploaded by Japanese digital media company The Asahi Shimbun Company on Aug. 3, 2021.

The clips were taken by residents when a landslide occurred in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan on July 3 that year, reportedly caused by “the vulnerability of the rock and soil…coupled with heavy downpours.” 

The TikTok video didn’t even remove the date from the original video, “2021年7月3日” as shown at the 0:20 mark, which corresponded to the keyframe at the 0:05 mark in Asahi Shimbun’s YouTube video, and the 0:23 mark, which corresponded to the 0:09 mark in the latter video.

Further reverse image searches of the keyframes on Google traced the video of the second misleading clip to a post on X uploaded by @show0001x on July 3, 2021, with the translated caption, “Atami is crazy! Debris flow I pray that the landslide will be safe.”

A comparison of the TikTok video at mark 0:20 (left) and the YouTube video at mark 0:05 (right)

A comparison of the TikTok video at mark 0:23 (left) and the YouTube video at mark 0:09 (right)

Meanwhile, the clip from the misleading video at the 0:30 mark corresponded to the 0:19 mark of the broadcast with translated texts crediting the clip to residents as having been “taken from home.” 

A Google reverse image search traced the clip to a post on X on July 3, 2021 by @522Kmkm, whose profile says it is a “long-established noodle shop in Atami” that had been relocated to Katagami because of the debris flow.

Google Maps’ street view locates the brown building and signposts from the X video to Izusan in Atami.

TikTok user @bruna490 has 565 followers. The video has amassed 240,400 views, 3,309 heart reactions, 89 comments, 258 bookmarks and 843 shares as of writing. (MJ)


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