Submersion of Japan

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Directed by                   Produced by
Shiro Moritani Tomoyuki Tanaka
Osamu Tanaka
Written by                       Music by  
Shinobu Hashimoto
Sakyo Komatsu
Masaru Sato
Distributed by                       Rating      
Toho Company Ltd.JP
New WorldUS
  Budget                           Box Office
¥500,000,000 ¥???,???,???
Running Time
143 minutesJP
(2 hours, 23 minutes)
82 minutesUS
(1 hour, 22 minutes)
Designs Used

Submersion of Japan (日本沈没,   Nihon Chinbotsu?, lit. Japan Sinks) is a 1973 disaster film produced by Toho Company Ltd.. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 29, 1973 and to American theaters in May of 1975.


Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes shake Japan. Firestorms burn beautiful Japanese cities to the ground. A weather survey group discovers that the Japanese Archipelago is moving towards the Japanese Trench, which if left to continue on its collision course, would bring the whole island of Japan under the sea.

Both Japanese and American governments must find a solution to the problem or find refuge for the Japanese in neighboring countries. The movie begins with a brief description of the geological formation of Japan. Later, Toshiro Onodera is shown relaxing at a beach near Kumamoto City with Reiko Abe, his wife. However, Mt. Aso erupts, forcing the two to escape the beach.

Later, Toshiro and Tadokoro have a talk with several American geologists, Warren Brody, Rodger Furren, and Ken Hill in Tokyo about the now fast-moving subduction of both the Pacific and Eurasian plates. Later a massive monster earthquake, with its epicenter on the Sagami Trough, strikes the Kanto Region, killing millions in Tokyo and in other areas, causing tsunamis and floods that kill hundreds of thousands more in Tokyo, Yokohama, and other large cities, and fires burn down Tokyo, with thousands more killed in much of the Kanto Region in the process. Rescue efforts begin. Toshiro Onodera hears about the earthquake damage. But before he can do anything to help, a deadly aftershock kills millions of refugees fleeing the city. Toshiro later arrives to help a team of Japanese geologists and American military with plans to save the Japanese. However, the plan backfires when a gang of thugs attacks him. Although Toshiro manages to settle the ordeal, the leader of the gang, Yusuke Yuki, refuses to give up and later begins harassing Toshiro with a Type 99 rifle. He also threatens to murder his family if he refuses to surrender hope for the Japanese. Toshiro is about to give in and fight-when two of his American friends save him. Sgt. Hank Thompson begins hogging him with violent punching, while another soldier, Pvt. Gary Hilton throws him into a brick. Finally, Yuki wounds Brody by shooting him in the chest with a Type 26 revolver. Sgt. Thompson knocks the gun out of his hand. Finally, Private Hilton injures Yuki by whacking him in the waist with a broken metal telephone pole fragment. Then he pulls out a Colt M1911 and dumps an entire projectile into Yusuke, which instantly kills him.

With the ordeal settled, Toshiro takes an American Bell Huey helicopter to Osaka. There, Toshiro finds the Prime Minister and tells him about the earthquakes in Numazu and Tokyo. Later, countless hundreds of thousands are killed when Sendai is destroyed by a violent tsunami. Toshiro is dumbfounded by the news when it gets printed in the newspaper. Toshiro later tells the Prime Minister about the tsunami's destruction on Sendai. He speaks with Shinji Yuki, his colleague. Toshiro later is surprised at the news that Japan will sink with more devastation than expected. Shocked, Toshiro decides to flee the archipelago. Along the way, he hears more shocking and devastating news. First, thousands, if not millions, are killed when Osaka submerges from a tsunami. Later, Mount Fuji violently erupts. It destroys the countryside. A few weeks later, Toshiro is speaking with a small team of Japanese scientists in Kumamoto City near the Kumamoto Prefecture. As they speak, Mount Aso violently bursts, destroying the city and killing millions. It seemingly kills Reiko, who tries to call him via telephone.

Concerned about Reiko, Toshiro flees Kumamoto with millions of other Japanese refugees. Later, Toshiro is chosen to guide a fleet of ships carrying refugees to neighboring Pusan, South Korea by helicopter. However, the plan backfires when a tsunami kills the refugees by sinking each of the ships. Later, it's revealed that Reiko survived the Osaka tsunami. Eventually, another tsunami destroys Hakodate. Later, the Prime Minister decides to flee with his family-but before he can, his daughter's grandfather dies. Later, Tadokoro arrives. The Prime Minister insists that he should join him on the journey. However, Tadokoro refuses, saying that he needs to stay and help the Japanese survivors reach safety. The Prime Minister ends up going without him and uses a Japanese Airline airplane en-route to Beijing, China. The movie closes with the Prime Minister's family taking an express train en-route to Beijing, China. Before the credits, the camera pans to show the that the entire archipelago has sank completely.


Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Shiro Moritani
  • Written by   Shinobu Hashimoto and Sakyo Komatsu
  • Produced by   Tomoyuki Tanaka and Osamu Tanaka
  • Music by   Masaru Sato
  • Cinematography by   Daisaku Kimura and Hiroshi Murai
  • Edited by   Michiko Ikeda
  • Production Design by   Yoshiro Muraki
  • Assistant Directing by   Koji Hashimoto
  • Special Effects by   Teruyoshi Nakano


Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Keiju Kobayashi   as   Dr. Tadokoro
  • Hiroshi Fujioka   as   Onodera Toshio
  • Ayumi Ishida   as   Abe Reiko
  • Rhonda Leigh Hopkins   as   Fran
  • Lorne Greene   as   Ambassador Warren Richards
  • Tetsuro Tamba   as   Prime Minister Yamamoto
  • Shogo Shimada   as   Watari
  • John Fujioka   as   Narita
  • Andrew Hughes   as   Australian Prime Minister
  • Nobuo Nakamura   as   Japanese Ambassador
  • Prime Minister's Chauffeur   as   Haruo Nakajima
  • Hideaki Nitani   as   Dr. Nakata
  • Isao Natsuyagi   as   Yuuki
  • Yusuke Takita   as   Assistant Professor Yukinaga

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