For most of Japan, this time of the year is the rainy season. The rains have taken a deadly turn in recent years according to the Straits Times. Singapore daily notes that “The deluge, which began last Friday and is forecast to continue until at least Thursday, has dumped in some areas more rain in a single day than the typical precipitation for the entire month of July”.
TOKYO – About 1.12 million people in south-western Japan were urged to flee to safety on Wednesday (July 3) as heavy rain continued to lash the region, bringing waist-deep floods in many areas and threatening deadly landslides.
They are residents in parts of Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto prefectures on the south-western island of Kyushu, where highways have been shut, bullet train services have been suspended and schools have been closed. A Unesco World Heritage site has also been damaged.
Kagoshima bore the brunt of the torrential rain on Wednesday morning when the entire cities of Kagoshima, Kirishima, and Aira in the prefecture were ordered to evacuate, affecting nearly 800,000 residents.
Another 1.44 million people have been told to “prepare” to evacuate, based on a new five-tier disaster warning system dedicated to heavy rain. It was launched by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) this year after deadly rains last year killed about 225 people.
Evacuation orders and advisories are on the second-highest Level Four – orders are more urgent than advisories and call for immediate action – while evacuation preparation starts at Level Three on the scale.
Japan has also been subject to blistering heatwaves as is the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
Japan’s heatwave in July 2018 could not have happened without climate change.
That is the unequivocal conclusion of a report released last week, as the country battles yet another record-breaking heatwave.
The July 2018 heatwave, which killed 1,032 people, saw temperatures reach 41.1C, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country. Torrential rains also triggered landslides and the worst flooding in decades.
Penned by the Meteorological Society of Japan, the study is the first to establish that some aspects of the international heatwave could not have occurred in the absence of global warming. Scientists reached this conclusion by employing a technique known as event attribution (EA).
The relatively new method, lead author Yukkiko Imada told Climate Home News, sought to pin down the causality of climate change in the heatwave by simulating 18 climate scenarios with and without the current 1C global warming above pre-industrial levels.
They found a one in five chance of the heatwave occurring in the current climate, but almost no chance of in a climate unchanged by human activity.