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.

Later, 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

Film media
Godzilla films
King Kong films
Mothra films
Gamera films
Other films
Cancelled or scrapped films