National

Typhoon-hit areas brace for more floods as heavy rains threaten parts of Japan

Kyodo, JIJI

Some of Japan’s eastern and northeastern regions were bracing for the chance of more floods and landslides, as heavy rain threatened to drench areas that are still reeling from the most powerful typhoon to hit the country in decades a week ago.

In Chiba Prefecture, 110 millimeters of rain per hour was recorded Saturday morning, while at least 28 homes and stores were confirmed inundated the same day in Mie Prefecture, with a river overflowing, according to local governments.

A low-pressure system that is bringing heavy rain was expected to proceed to the Hokuriku and Tohoku regions through Saturday night, according to the Meteorological Agency.

At least 13 municipalities in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, hit hard by Typhoon Hagibis, said they canceled plans to solicit volunteers out of concern for their safety, despite the urgent need to speed up recovery efforts.

The season’s 19th typhoon claimed the lives of at least 79 people, with 10 still missing. It also left some 2,400 homes heavily damaged or destroyed, and inundated at least 25,000 hectares on the country’s main island of Honshu, according to government data.

“All will be over if more heavy rain comes,” Satsuki Hikichi, a 78-year-old resident of the town of Marumori, Miyagi Prefecture, said at a local school building being used as an evacuation center.

In the wake of the disaster, the Environment Ministry estimates that a total of several million tons of waste will need to be disposed of, far exceeding the 1.9 million tons resulting from the rain disaster in western Japan last year.

Affected municipalities will not be able to deal with all the waste on their own, and it will likely take more than two years to complete disposal unless governments in regions less affected by the disaster offer to cooperate, experts said.

Central Nippon Expressway Co. reopened a part of the Chuo Expressway between Hachioji Junction in Tokyo and Otsuki interchange in Yamanashi Prefecture on Saturday following a weeklong closure due to typhoon-caused landslides.

On Friday, the Cabinet adopted an ordinance designating Typhoon Hagibis an extraordinary “specified” disaster, so that the people and businesses affected can be given special treatment.

“We believe the designation will help ease anxiety among victims,” disaster management minister Ryota Takeda told a news conference.

The designation, made under a relevant special law, took effect immediately, providing such benefits as extended expiration dates for renewing driver’s licenses and restaurant permits.

It was the sixth natural disaster to earn the designation, following the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe, the 2004 Chuetsu region temblor in Niigata, the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami mainly in Tohoku, the two Kumamoto quakes in 2016 and the 2018 torrential rain disaster in western Japan.

The designation is made for extraordinary and severe disasters that destroy or damage a great number of houses and disrupt transport and vital services in widespread areas.

Specific support measures related to Typhoon Hagibis will be announced by the relevant government agencies and ministries later.

The government also plans to designate Typhoon Hagibis as an extremely serious disaster covered by greater state financial aid for the restoration of damaged facilities such as farmland and roads.

Also on Saturday, Tropical Storm Neoguri was approaching Okinawa Prefecture and was expected to travel eastward, the weather agency said.

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