Better understanding of hazardous natural phenomena means improved preparedness and the opportunity to mitigate the damaging impact of these natural hazards. For example, improving knowledge about earthquakes can enable safer buildings to be built, as well as disaster prevention measures to be implemented, ultimately saving lives. This is particularly important in a country like Japan, which is earthquake-prone and where earthquakes prove to be very unpredictable. A team of Japanese researchers is seeking to reduce uncertainty in earthquake hazards by conducting statistical analyses of seismic activity, with a focus on the Nankai Trough megathrust earthquake. These investigations have enabled the researchers to estimate the state of the stress in and around the earthquake’s focal region, and they believe this may lead to a method for qualitatively evaluating whether the next Nankai Trough earthquake is imminent.