Six Dead in Tokyo Heatwave: Heath Officials

Tue Jul 09 2024
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TOKYO: Six people have died from heatstroke in Tokyo as Japan experiences an unusual heatwave during the rainy season, prompting numerous health warnings from authorities. Over the weekend, the central Shizuoka region recorded the first instance of temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) this year, significantly exceeding the 35-degree threshold classified by weather officials as “extremely hot.” This severe heat in the middle of Japan’s rainy season is “rather rare,” partly due to a strong South Pacific high-pressure system, a weather agency official told AFP.

On Monday, temperatures also hit record highs near 40 degrees Celsius at observation posts in Tokyo and the southern Wakayama region, according to local media. In response, authorities have issued heatstroke alerts across much of the country, advising residents to avoid outdoor exercise and use air conditioning.

Tokyo recorded three heatstroke-related deaths on Saturday and three more on Monday, when midday temperatures hovered around 35 degrees Celsius, according to the city’s medical examination office.

“Without the AC on, I find it difficult to survive,” Tokyo resident Sumiko Yamamoto, 75, told AFP, noting that “it has gotten drastically hotter” since last year. Following advice from TV, she tries to stay hydrated as much as possible. “Because I’m old, I’m being careful not to collapse,” she added.

Heatstroke is particularly deadly in Japan, which has the second-oldest population in the world after Monaco. Yamamoto’s age group, along with infants and those living alone or who are too poor to afford air conditioning, is particularly vulnerable to heatstroke.

The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine on Monday warned of the rising death toll from heat exhaustion nationwide, which increased from just a few hundred per year two decades ago to around 1,500 in 2022. The association stated that the number of fatalities suggests heatstroke now poses a danger comparable to “a major natural disaster,” urging people to avoid non-essential outings.

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