On average, since 1900, there have been 134 7.0 or higher quakes each year. At least one will be an 8.
There have been 174 7.0+ quakes between 2000 and 2011. However, between 1990 and 1999 there were 181. In the USGS's info of the largest quakes since 1900 (when records began), 4 have been in the first decade of this century. But 4 were also in the 1960s and 3 more prior to that in the 1950s. And, folks, there are only 15.
Here's a good read: CLICK HERE
It only SEEMS like there are more earthquakes and the world is a'comin' to an end because of a delightful little thing called observational bias, in particular recall bias. Humans have goldfish memories and when the evening news is tempting you with the fresh catch of the day, you're not likely to remember that...
Prior to this tragic quake, only about 50 fatalities were attributed to all the quakes over the past decade in Japan. However, in 1995 over 5,000 perished in Kobe and a whopping 143,000 perished around Kanto in 1923.
Furthermore 222,000 died in Haiti in 2010, but 228,000 in Sumatra in 2004.
Food for thought.