The 7.2 Richter scale Tottori earthquake had an epicenter offshore from Ketaka District (now part of Tottori). Tottori city, with many antiquated buildings was the hardest hit with ~80% of its structures damaged or destroyed. As the earthquake struck in the evening when most kitchens were preparing the evening meal, fires broke out all over the city.
1083 people were killed, including numerous Koreans working in the nearby copper mines.
Put into the greater context of the war, this tragedy came at a time when the perimeter of the Japanese Empire was beginning to recede. The map below shows the extent of the empire in 1943. However, at the time, Japan was losing the battle for the Solomon Islands and beginning to lose most of New Guinea.
August 6/7, 1943 – Battle of Vella Gulf in the Solomon Islands.
August 25, 1943 – Allies complete the occupation of New Georgia
September 4, 1943 – Allies recapture Lae-Salamaua, New Guinea.