As one of the world’s most technologically advanced nations, situated in the seismological Ring of Fire and constantly preparing for the next big one, Japan’s relative losses (while certainly still a tragedy) are probably less than what most other countries would’ve suffered.
Still, 8000 dead is 8000 dead.
What could have been done better? The seawalls failed – could they have been engineered even taller or even stronger? Was the tsunami simply bigger than even the projected worst-case scenario? Are there policy decisions that could’ve helped?
If such a thing were to happen again in the future, what would it take to decrease the death toll to zero – or is that completely unrealistic?
(Note: Please leave the nuclear and earthquake casualties out of this. Japan is already phenomenally well-equipped to handle dry shaking, I believe, and the nuclear situation has its other threads already.)