Introduction: Japan has a long history of disaster due to its location on the "Pacific Ring of Fire." The frequency of earthquakes experienced in recent years has had significant influence on disaster health research in Japan. This paper describes disaster health research trends in Japan, with an emphasis on disaster nursing research.Method A systematic literature review of disaster health research in Japan from 2001 through 2007 was conducted for this study. The most commonly used database in Japan, Ichushi (version 4.0), was used for this literature review. The keywords and sub-keywords used were: disaster, disaster nursing, practice, education, ability, response, emergency, licensure, capability, function, prevention, planning and research. These keywords were sometimes used in combination to identify relevant literature. Results: A total of 222 articles were reviewed. The number of research papers available increased gradually from 2001 through 2007. The most common articles used were found using the search category of "disaster nursing and research." Among the search categories, "disaster nursing and education" also had a high number of publications. This category also peaked in 2007. Conclusion: The recent experiences of natural disaster in Japan accelerated the impetus to explore and implement a disaster nursing concept into practice and nursing curricula. Further evidence-based studies to develop methodology and other areas of studies in disaster nursing, including other language databases are to be expected in the future.