Map over Japan, showing the temperatures in late July 2018.
23 Jul 2018

Warmer than ever in Japan - almost 80 have died and 30 000 hospitalized for heat related health problems


At least 77 people have died during the heat wave in Japan, reports Kyodo news agency. On Monday, the highest temperature in the country so far, 41.1 degrees,  (106 F)  was noted in Kumagaya, north of Tokyo.

This heat wave deals yet another blow to a country still recovering from the worst flooding in decades. Over 30,000 people have received hospital care due to the heat, since July 9th.

Japan´s meteorological authority held a press conference on Monday to warn the public about the heat and inform about prevention.

The heat wave is expected to continue for at least another two weeks.


"Likely hundreds dead"

CNN writes that according to AccuWeather analyst Joel N. Myers, the death toll is "likely already in the hundreds despite the official toll":

"The elderly and those with pre-existent conditions, such as asthma and heart failure, are likely to face declining health due to exacerbation of their conditions due to weather," he said in a statement.

"Heat exhaustion and stroke, dehydration, migraines, loss of sleep and mood alteration can all occur due to dangerous heat. Historical data shows that more people are likely to be involved in vehicle crashes due to heat-related impacts, such as decreased ability to concentrate, the poor quality of sleep they get and impaired mood, etc."


No relief in sight

According to Myers, in parts of Japan which do not often experience high temperatures, air conditioning is less prevalent, meaning people do not have cool locations to go for relief.

A government survey published last year found only around 42% of public elementary and middle schools had air conditioning, and most apartment buildings do not have centralized climate control systems.


People may have been led to turn of their air conditioning

Electricity shortages triggered by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster also led to calls to reduce or limit AC usage.

"It used to be said that keeping air conditioning on throughout the night was not good for your health, but we keep it on all the time this year," said Kenichiro Maeda, a manufacturing worker in Tokyo.

Pointing to rising temperatures all over the world, he said that "we have to do something, but we feel helpless."


Historically hot summer

Last month was the fifth hottest June on record, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. All 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2005, with the hottest ever in 2016.

Globally, the average land and ocean surface temperature for the first three months of the year was the sixth highest such period since global records began in 1880.

Much of the northern hemisphere has been experiencing a scorching summer characterized by heatwaves and extreme weather.

Asia has been particularly hard hit. At least 21 people died as a result of flash flooding this month, and more than 190,000 people were relocated in and around Shanghai, where Tropical Storm Ampil is striking the east coast of China.