This week’s featured article


The Kanto region may experience a serious drought this summer, possibly triggering a raft of restrictions, due to an “unprecedented” shortage of water in lakes and reservoirs supplying the area, officials warned Tuesday.

Although the region expects decent rainfall over the next few days, hopes remain slim that it will significantly alter the dire forecast. Officials have already imposed a 10 percent restriction on water intake for six prefectures around the Tone River, while a 20 percent restriction is in place for cities drawing from the Watarase River.

At 20 percent, fountains in parks can be temporarily switched off, while a 30 percent curb might lead to school swimming pools being closed or temporary restrictions on households.

“We have seen an unprecedented rapid drop in water reservoir levels” in eight water storage areas located along the Tone River, said Takaharu Masaki, an official in the water management division of the land ministry.

The Tone River is Japan’s second-longest river and the biggest by drainage area, passing through a swath of the Kanto region from Gunma Prefecture in the west to Chiba Prefecture in the east.

The eight reservoirs, which play a vital role in supplying water to Kanto residents, have witnessed a marked shortage of water this year due mainly to unusually low snowfall last winter and a lack of any substantial rain in the subsequent months. As of Tuesday, the eight reservoirs were at 39 percent of capacity. This, according to Masaki, is 54 percent of the average for the same time in previous years and the lowest level in 25 years.

On June 16, a committee set up to battle the water shortage, whose members include officials from the land ministry and local governments in Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Ibaraki, Gunma and Tochigi prefectures, agreed on a 10 percent restriction in water intake from the Tone River.

On Saturday, a separate land ministry-led committee decided on a 20 percent curb on water intake from the Watarase River, affecting some cities in Tochigi and Gunma prefectures.

First published in The Japan Times on June 29.

Warm up

One-minute chat about the weather.


Collect words related to summer, e.g., vacation, pool, sunburn.

New words

1) drought: a period of dry weather; e.g., “The earth has dried up because of the drought.”

2) reservoir: a natural or artificial lake where water is stored; e.g., “The town is supplied with water from a reservoir.”

3) drainage: the process of drawing off rainwater or liquid waste; e.g., “The drainage system is designed to collect as much water as possible.”

Guess the headline

K_ _ _ _ region facing serious summer drought, possible w_ _ _ _ restrictions


1) What does the article say is happening now in the Kanto region?

2) What have officials already done to cut water use?

3) If the issue becomes more serious, what restrictions might be put in place?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about the recent weather conditions?

2) Do you do anything to save water?

3) What can be done to help us deal with issues caused by nature?


梅雨らしい雨があまりなかった東京ではこの夏の水不足はとても深刻だと 言われています。一方で、東京以外の地域では大雨による災害被害の ニュースが世間を騒がしています。

テクノロジーが進んでも自然をコントロールすることには限界があります。 自然と共存していくために私たちはなにをしていけばよいのでしょうか。



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