One of the main reasons the Kobe earthquake was so severe was that it was on a fault. This fault is called the Nojima Fault.
It's on a destructive margin (a margin where land/crust is destroyed by it being pushed down under another plate, where the
plates are moving together). Over time, the volcanic activity at this margin has made Japan, in the same way that Hawaii was
formed. Unfortunately, because the earth still shifts alot, Japan is constantly threatened by severe earthquakes. Earthquakes
in the past have killed hundreds of THOUSANDS of people.
Japan is in the same situation as California, which is right along the San Andreas fault. They need to have earthquake-sound
buildings and regular earthquake drills, along with extra security measures and safety checks.