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Dangerous Heat Wave Hits Japan

By: Zhihan Jiang

On July 2nd, Japan endured one of its worst heat waves for the eighth day straight. There are many concerns about potential power shortages, but officials advise people to keep their AC on so they can avoid heat stroke.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency announced on Monday that the rainy season in Tokyo and neighboring areas were over. The rainy season this year lasted three weeks shorter than average.

Due to the unusually dry temperatures, Japan’s average high temperatures has shot up to an average of around 95 degrees. More than 550 monthly records were broken across the country, with Cities like Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture have temperatures rise above 104 degrees.

On Thursday, a thermal power plant in the Fukushima prefecture, which supplies energy to a large area in eastern Japan (including Tokyo), closed temporarily due to technical issues. Japan has had energy issues since an earthquake hit northeastern Japan in March, causing some of the country’s nuclear plants to shut down.

Several other countries such as Spain, Algeria, India, Finland, Iran, and Italy have also been experiencing this extreme heat.

There have been several deaths from the heat and an increase in people being treated for heat stroke and exhaustion. Over 4,500 people have been hospitalized, most of them being the majority of Japan’s population, senior citizens who are 65 years or older.

The authorities have recommended that people protect themselves from the sun by staying indoors or bringing umbrellas if they go outside. People are also discouraged from using face masks.

“I’d like to ask people to take their masks off when walking, jogging and cycling to work,” Seiji Kihara, the deputy cabinet secretary, said on Friday. Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, also suggested to set refrigerators to higher temperatures and turn off the highly popular heated toilets in Japan to conserve energy.

People have found ways to deal with the heat. Yoko Koguchi tweeted that her daughter’s softball practice has been cancelled due to the heat. “Thanks to this spare time, we are off to a bookstore and a short trip for something delicious,” she said.

Other people take the spare time to advise that people take care of themselves. “You can’t manage the heat just with your endurance. No matter how tough a person you are, you could lose your life,” said Kentaro Araki, a researcher at the Japan Meteorological Agency. “Please take every possible measure to protect your life.”


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