Much of the nation experienced mid-summer heat Friday as the mercury hit record levels for the year in various cities, especially in the Kanto area, and was blamed for two deaths.

The record for the day was set by Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, which recorded a sweltering 38.7 in the afternoon.

Two people hit by heatstroke died Friday and more than 60 residents in the Kanto and Koshin regions were taken to hospital, affected by the heat. A 58-year-old man hit by heatstroke while walking in a park died after being taken to hospital in Chiba Prefecture, government officials said. Meanwhile, a 90-year-old woman apparently affected by heat died in Saitama Prefecture while working in a field, police said.

In Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, the temperature reached 37.5, while Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, experienced 37-degree heat. Temperatures in Tokyo and Osaka were lower, hitting only 34.4.

According to the Meteorological Agency, the heat was due to a high-pressure system covering most of eastern and western Japan; only Hokkaido and a portion of the Tohoku area were relatively unaffected.

Meanwhile, the annual rainy season has probably ended in the Shikoku region, it was announced Friday, following similar weather bulletins Thursday for much of southern Kyushu. The Takamatsu Meteorological Observatory’s announcement that skies have cleared over Shikoku came 15 days earlier than last year and 13 days earlier than average.

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