Seismologists have warned of the likelihood of a Tokai region earthquake for years.

The chances of the quake, whose epicenter, they speculate, could be in or off the coast of Shizuoka Prefecture, are so high that Prime Minister Naoto Kan last month ordered the shutdown of the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which sits in one of the projected epicenter zones.

However, the penchant for Japanese seismologists to focus so much on a potential temblor when there effectively is nowhere in the country free of earthquake risk seems hard to fathom.