Japan Heatwave: Heatstroke Alerts, Four Dead

Image Credit: Anadolu/Getty Images

Japan’s meteorological agency has issued a heatstroke alert for 26 of the country’s 47 prefectures, urging residents to stay indoors unless necessary, use air conditioning, and drink plenty of water. This comes after temperatures soared to 40°C for the first time this year on Sunday, marking the onset of another severe heatwave.

Shizuoka in central Japan recorded 40°C on Sunday afternoon, the highest temperature since records began in 1940. Additionally, 244 locations across the country experienced temperatures of 35°C or higher, officially classified as “extremely hot.” These unprecedented temperatures prompted the issuance of extreme heat warnings.

Earlier this year, the meteorological agency warned that summer temperatures might surpass those of last year, which was the hottest on record. While hot and humid summers are typical in Japan, especially after the rainy season ends in mid- to late July, recent years have seen particularly high temperatures due to global warming and other climatic factors, experts say.

The elderly population in Japan is particularly vulnerable during these heatwaves. The fire and disaster management agency reported that more than half of the 2,276 people hospitalized for heatstroke in the last week of June were over 65. Young children are also at risk; in Kyoto, nine children showed symptoms of heatstroke during a school trip, with three hospitalized.

Recent days have seen at least four heat-related deaths, including a man in his 70s found dead after cutting grass, an 80-year-old man working on his farm, a woman in her 90s who collapsed at home, and an 83-year-old woman who died after working outside. In Tokyo, 198 people were hospitalized with suspected heatstroke on Sunday, as temperatures reached 35°C by mid-morning on Monday.

According to data from the health ministry reported by the Japan Times, heatstroke-related deaths have significantly increased, from an average of 201 per year between 1995 and 1999 to an average of 1,295 from 2018 to 2022. The majority of these deaths, 80-90%, involve individuals over the age of 65.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Japan was 41.1°C, observed in Hamamatsu on August 17, 2020, and Kumagaya on July 23, 2018.

Re-reported from the article originally published in THE GUARDIAN.

Japan Heatwave: Heatstroke Alerts, Four Dead

Image Credit: Anadolu/Getty Images

Japan’s meteorological agency has issued a heatstroke alert for 26 of the country’s 47 prefectures, urging residents to stay indoors unless necessary, use air conditioning, and drink plenty of water. This comes after temperatures soared to 40°C for the first time this year on Sunday, marking the onset of another severe heatwave.

Shizuoka in central Japan recorded 40°C on Sunday afternoon, the highest temperature since records began in 1940. Additionally, 244 locations across the country experienced temperatures of 35°C or higher, officially classified as “extremely hot.” These unprecedented temperatures prompted the issuance of extreme heat warnings.

Earlier this year, the meteorological agency warned that summer temperatures might surpass those of last year, which was the hottest on record. While hot and humid summers are typical in Japan, especially after the rainy season ends in mid- to late July, recent years have seen particularly high temperatures due to global warming and other climatic factors, experts say.

The elderly population in Japan is particularly vulnerable during these heatwaves. The fire and disaster management agency reported that more than half of the 2,276 people hospitalized for heatstroke in the last week of June were over 65. Young children are also at risk; in Kyoto, nine children showed symptoms of heatstroke during a school trip, with three hospitalized.

Recent days have seen at least four heat-related deaths, including a man in his 70s found dead after cutting grass, an 80-year-old man working on his farm, a woman in her 90s who collapsed at home, and an 83-year-old woman who died after working outside. In Tokyo, 198 people were hospitalized with suspected heatstroke on Sunday, as temperatures reached 35°C by mid-morning on Monday.

According to data from the health ministry reported by the Japan Times, heatstroke-related deaths have significantly increased, from an average of 201 per year between 1995 and 1999 to an average of 1,295 from 2018 to 2022. The majority of these deaths, 80-90%, involve individuals over the age of 65.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Japan was 41.1°C, observed in Hamamatsu on August 17, 2020, and Kumagaya on July 23, 2018.

Re-reported from the article originally published in THE GUARDIAN.