Heat wave sends mercury soaring past 40 degrees

Kyodo, JIJI

A severe heat wave struck the Japanese archipelago Saturday, topping the 40-degree mark for the first time in six years and nearing 41 degrees in western regions, the Meteorological Agency reported.

The city of Shimanto in Kochi Prefecture recorded the day’s highest temperature, at 40.7 degrees. It was the first time since Aug. 16, 2007, that Japan has logged a reading above 40 degrees, the agency said.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the mercury soared to 40.5 degrees in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, the highest in the city’s history.

Meanwhile, 290 observation points across the nation recorded heat in excess of 35 degrees.

The temperature reached 40.1 degrees in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture, and 39.8 degrees in the town of Hatoyama, Saitama Prefecture, the agency said. In central Tokyo, the temperature climbed to 37.4 degrees.

The agency issued a heat warning urging people, especially young children and the elderly, to consume enough water and crank up air conditioners to avoid heatstroke.

Nationwide, the number of people rushed to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke last month came to 23,699, of whom 27 died and 644 were in serious condition, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Friday.

That figure was the highest for the month of July since comparable statistics began to be kept in 2008, according to the agency.

By prefecture, Tokyo had the largest number of heatstroke hospitalizations, at 2,024, followed by Aichi with 1,992, Saitama with 1,523, Kanagawa with 1,473 and Osaka with 1,453.