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The archipelago is located at the junction of three tectonic plates , the Eurasian, Philippine and Pacific, with an additional small plates, like that of Okhotsk. The Pacific plate is sinking beneath the Eurasian plate along the Japan Trench at a rate of 8.5 cm / year. A small region of Eurasia provides a buffer and deforms intensely: the Okhotsk microplate.

Map plates around Japan (Institute of Earth Physics of Paris)

A little further south, the Pacific Plate also slides under the Philippine plate along the Izu Bonin pit, but its movement is only 5.5 cm / year. While a little further west, closer to shore, it is the Philippines plate that sinks under the Eurasian along the Nankai Trough at a speed of 4 cm / year.