Sinking of Japan (2006 film)

  (Redirected from Nihon Chinbotsu (2006 film))

Sinking of Japan[1] (日本沈没, Nihon Chinbotsu, lit. "Japan Sinks") is a 2006 tokusatsu film directed by Shinji Higuchi. It is an adaptation of the novel Japan Sinks and a remake of the film Tidal Wave, both made in the year 1973. It stars Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Kou Shibasaki, Etsushi Toyokawa and Mao Daichi.

Sinking of Japan
Directed byShinji Higuchi
Produced byKazuya Hamana
Toshiaki Nakazawa
Written bySakyo Komatsu (Novel)
Masato Kato
StarringTsuyoshi Kusanagi
Kou Shibasaki
Etsushi Toyokawa
Mao Daichi
Mitsuhiro Oikawa
Music byTarō Iwashiro
CinematographyTaro Kawazu
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • July 15, 2006 (2006-07-15)
Running time
135 minutes

The film was released on July 15, 2006. The film is also known under the titles Sinking of Japan and Doomsday: The Sinking of Japan.

It was parodied in Nihon Igai Zenbu Chinbotsu ("World Sinks Except Japan").


Submersible pilot Toshio Onodera wakes up pinned inside his car in Numazu after an earthquake wreaks havoc in the city and nearby Suruga Bay. As aftershock triggers an explosion, a rescue helicopter led by Reiko Abe saves him and a young girl named Misaki.

In Tokyo, geologists and volcanologists around the world become concerned about Japan; one predicts that the archipelagic nation will sink within 40 years. Japanese geoscientist Yusuke Tadokoro doubts the prediction and analyzes rocks in Kyushu, Hokkaido and Mangaia of the Cook Islands, where he hypothesizes that the rock came from the ancient continent of Japan after it split from Pangaea thousands of years ago. Tadokoro realizes Japan will sink in 338.54 days (which is less than a year) instead of the original 40-year estimate. Tadokoro reports his theory to the Cabinet, recommending immediate action, but none of the ministers are convinced. He is ejected from the chamber, but not before he angrily explains to everyone how Japan will sink, with the destruction of the Fossa Magna and the eruption of Mount Fuji as the climax.

The next day, Prime Minister Yamamoto goes to China to try to make arrangements for an impending resettlement of Japanese refugees and appoints a close colleague, Saori Takamori, as disaster management minister. Tadokoro's predictions come to light: in Hokkaido, the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group bursts along with Mount Aso. The eruption destroys Yamamoto's plane while Kumamoto City residents flee in terror from the onslaught of lava bombs and pyroclastic flows on the city.

Takamori panics when she finds out about the Prime Minister's death. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis rock Japan, starting from southwest to northeast, affecting a large-scale evacuation now underway. As the economy collapses, the government declares a state of emergency but acting Prime Minister Kyosuke Nozaki announces that the nation will take five years to sink. Because of Nozaki's indifference to the situation, Takamori runs to Tadokoro's laboratory, where he proposes using experimental N2 explosives drilled into the crust to separate the land from the megalith pulling it down. The minister, who is actually Tadokoro's ex-wife, calls for help from drillships around the world.

Meanwhile, Hakodate City has been destroyed by a huge tsunami, causing the inhabitants to flee in terror as the tsunami destroys the Goryokaku and many other buildings and structures. Misaki, Reiko's family and the rest of Tokyo's population are evacuated. Onodera confesses his true feelings for Reiko and wants her to go to England with him. An aftershock finally destroys the Kinki region and many Tokyo evacuees are killed by a massive landslide, with people falling into the valley below as Misaki is rescued by Reiko's family and they witness a crowded bridge collapse.

The next day, Tokyo is destroyed by a large earthquake, which triggered a tsunami which destroyed the special wards of Shibuya, Minato and Chiyoda. The earthquake, which struck Tokyo, has also struck a sunken Osaka, Nagano (engulfed by massive lava flows), Nagoya (destroyed by another earthquake) and Sendai (inundated by a series of tsunamis).

Yuki Tatsuya, Onodera's fellow submersible pilot, dies in an attempt to activate the warheads from a central module. Onodera takes his place using an old submersible brought out of museum storage and spends a night with Reiko before the operation. Although he locates the detonation module, a sudden landslide damages his submersible to the point that it is running on emergency power. Onodera uses all the remaining power to move into position and install the detonator. Mount Fuji's initiation to eruption is being witnessed by volcanologists. Onodera succeeds in his task and calmly awaits his death. The warheads explode, creating a chain of explosions along the seafloor, effectively fracturing the tectonic plates and saving Japan.

The success of the mission reaches Takamori aboard the amphibious carrier Shimokita, which has been converted as the Japanese government's temporary headquarters. Although she recommends that Nozaki address the refugees, her colleagues want her to do it instead, given her leadership during the crisis. She announces that people can finally return and holds a moment of silence in honor of Tatsuya and Onodera's sacrifice. In Fukushima Prefecture, Toshio's mother, who wanted to remain at her house until the end, is overjoyed when she sees birds return - a sign of his success. Reiko rescues her family as they look towards a bright sunrise, before the credits start rolling, showing a drastically altered Japan.


  • Tsuyoshi Kusanagi – Toshio Onodera, a submersible pilot working for Tadokoro
  • Kou Shibasaki – Reiko Abe, a member of the Tokyo Hyper–Rescue team
  • Etsushi Toyokawa – Yusuke Tadokoro, geologist
  • Mao Daichi – Saori Takamori, science and disaster management minister
  • Mitsuhiro Oikawa – Yuki Tatsuya, submersible pilot
  • Mayuko Fukuda – Misaki Kuraki, young child found in Numazu
  • Jun Kunimura – acting Prime Minister Kyosuke Nozaki
  • Koji Ishizaka – Prime Minister Yamamoto
  • Aiko Nagayama – Toshio Onodera's Mother

Tetsuro Tamba, who played Prime Minister Yamamoto in the 1973 movie, made a cameo appearance as Reiko's grandfather. It would be his final film role before dying on September 24, 2006.[2] Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino appeared as one of the refugees boarding a transport plane and as a Buddhist monk in Kyoto praying over a shipment of national treasures being sent abroad.

Comparison with Submersion of JapanEdit

  • The 2006 film ends with Japan being saved after a series of non-nuclear ultra-high explosive detonations breaks its tectonic plates from dragging the entire country down. The original 1973 movie's ending is more similar to the book - Japan does sink in the end and Mount Fuji violently erupts.
  • In the original movie, Reiko Abe is a single woman in search of a husband. The 2006 film recasts the character as a member of Tokyo's Hyper-Rescue Squad. Both versions of Reiko Abe survive by the end of the film, with the 2006 Reiko being able to save her family while the 1973 version successfully escapes Japan and is last seen aboard a refugee train passing through an unknown snow-capped country. Abe's fate in the book is left unknown after Mount Fuji destructively erupts near her as she calls Toshio and asks him to meet in Geneva.
  • In the original 1973 film, Toshio Onodera makes it out and is last seen riding a refugee train passing through a desert. Onodera dies in the 2006 film.
  • In the original 1973 film, Dr. Tadokoro stays behind in Japan to witness the end while the 2006 version of him successfully oversees the drilling operation that saves the nation.
  • In the original 1973 film, Prime Minister Yamamoto is one of the last evacuees from Japan while the 2006 version of the premier dies while flying to China to arrange aid for refugees.
  • The 2006 version of the film does not include Mr. Watari, a wise old man giving counsel to Tadokoro in the 1973 film.
  • The 1973 version of Dr. Tadokoro leads a government disaster-response group called D1, which accurately predicts the breakup of Japan. The 2006 version of the scientist is first discredited by the government despite presenting his research before the prime minister accepts the situation and establishes D1 (with Tadokoro temporarily out of the picture). The D1 team is based aboard a ship. The 1973 Tadokoro is apparently single while the 2006 Tadokoro has been divorced for 20 years.
  • The opening credits of the original 1973 film depicts scenes of an overcrowded Japan while the introduction of the 2006 film features various scenes of everyday Japanese life as well as wide shots of several locations in Japan.
  • The Wadatsumi 6500 in the 2006 film is based on the real-life Shinkai 6500 submersible. The remake pays homage to the 1973 film through the appearance of its older brother, the Wadatsumi 1, now called the Wadatsumi 2000.


Home mediaEdit

Prior to the release of the film, TBS released The Encyclopedia of Sinking of Japan, a special one-hour DVD featuring interviews with the cast and crew. A "Standard Version" was released on January 19, 2007.

Scale modelsEdit

Takara Tomy released two batches of gashapon miniatures depicting various vehicles from the film in August 2006. The company followed it up in January 2007 with a 1/700 pre-assembled model of the Shimokita, which was released under its Microworld DX line.

Critical receptionEdit

The film garnered mixed reviews. Derek Elley of Variety lauded the visual effects, but regarded the drama elements as thin.[3] Nix of Beyond noted the ending as akin to Bruce Willis' character's sacrifice in Armageddon and the lines of some characters are practically the same as in Western disaster movies.[4] Mark Schilling, a film reviewer for the Japan Times, stated the movie was all business in terms of the Hollywood-style effects graphically showing the devastation. He also took notice of Shibasaki's casting as Reiko Abe and the short conversation scenes as different from the 1973 movie, plus the "soft nationalism" of some characters opting to die in the chaos rather than leave the country.[5]


  1. ^ "Sinking of Japan". Toho Kingdom. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  2. ^ Ronald Bergan (2006-12-06). "Obituary: Tetsuro Tamba | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  3. ^ Elley, Derek (2007-05-13). "Variety Reviews - Sinking of Japan - Film Reviews - Far East - Review by Derek Elley". Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  4. ^ "The Sinking of Japan (2006) Movie Review". 2007-02-12. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  5. ^ Schilling, Mark. "The Sinking of Japan". JapanFocus. Retrieved 2012-08-25.

External linksEdit