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Japan’s authorities have declared a heat wave sweeping the country a natural disaster, with at least 65 deaths recorded in the past week.

The country’s weather agency spokesman warned that “unprecedented levels of heat” were being seen in some areas.

According to emergency officials, more than 22,000 people have been admitted to hospital with heat stroke, nearly half of them elderly.

Forecasters say the heat wave shows no sign of abating.

On July 23, the city of Kumagaya reported a temperature of 41.1C (106F), the highest ever recorded in Japan.

Image source manichi.jp

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In central Tokyo, temperatures over 40C (104F) were also registered for the first time.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that temperatures of 35C (95F) or higher would continue until early August.

Spokesman Motoaki Takekawa said: “We are observing unprecedented levels of heat in some areas.”

He added that the heat wave was “a threat to life and we recognize it as a natural disaster”.

In Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo, a 91-year-old woman was found collapsed in a field and later pronounced dead in hospital. In nearby Saitama two elderly women were found dead in their homes.

With less than half of Japan’s public schools equipped with air conditioning, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the summer holidays could be extended to protect pupils.

Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on July 24: “As a record heat wave continues to blanket the country, urgent measures are required to protect the lives of schoolchildren.”

People are being advised to drink plenty of water, to use air conditioning and to rest often.

In some cities, people have taken part in an event known as uchimizu, or “water ceremony” – pouring or sprinkling cold water on to the hot pavements in an attempt to cool them.

The heat wave closely followed torrential rain that caused severe flooding and landslides in the west of Japan.


Japan’s capital is experiencing its first November snowfall in 54 years.

The last time it snowed in Tokyo in November was in 1962.

Photo Japan Times

Photo Japan Times

Tokyo residents were taken by surprise, as the temperatures around this time of the year usually range from 10C to 17C.

It is the first time fallen snow has been seen on the ground in Tokyo in November since records started to be taken in 1875.

The snow, caused by an unusual cold front over the Japanese capital, caused slight delays on public transport

According to the Japan Times, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) also warned of possible icy roads, snow on electric wires and trees, and the collapse of plastic greenhouses.


At least three people have died in Japan’s severe flooding and hundreds of people are stranded.

The deaths were in the badly hit prefectures of Tochigi and Miyagi, both north of the capital, Tokyo.

According to officials, 26 people are still missing, 25 of them in or around Joso city in Ibaraki, where the Kinugawa River burst its banks on September 10.

Officials have warned of further heavy rain and the risk of mudslides.

The torrential rain comes in the wake of Typhoon Etau, which ploughed through Japan earlier this week.

Officials have confirmed that a 63-year-old woman was killed when her house was hit by a landslide in Kanuma City in Tochigi.

A second woman, 48, was killed after her car was swept away in Kurihara city in Miyagi. And in hot spring resort of Nikko in Tochigi, a man died after falling into a drain he was trying to clear.

At least 27 people have been injured, eight seriously.

In Joso, nearly 6,000 emergency service workers are trying to reach stranded people. Many rescuers had worked through the night.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Officials in the city of 60,000, about 30 miles northeast of Tokyo, said 22 people there had lost contact after requesting help. NHK reported that two eight-year-old children were believed to be among them.

Akira Motokawa, a Joso city evacuation official, told national broadcaster NHK that rescuers had been unable to keep up with the volume of calls for help.

Thousands have been taken to temporary shelters, many carrying almost nothing with them.

Floodwaters in Joso had subsided somewhat by September 11, but much of the city was still under water and it is not clear when evacuees will be able to return home.

Takuya Deshimaru, chief forecaster at the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), has said the rainfall over the past few days was “unprecedented”.

In Tochigi, more than 19 inches of rain fell in 24 hours in places, double the amount that normally falls there throughout the whole of September, according to NHK.

Parts of central Tochigi have seen almost 24in of rain since September 7, breaking records.

A severe rain warning remains in effect for large areas of northeastern Japan.