The last week of July marked the official end of the rainy season. This year, the rainy season that usually takes place in June, came in late. As a result, rainy days extended to most of July, with the heat and humidity associated with Japanese summers just looming around the corner. As soon as the rainy season came to an end, hot temperatures started hitting most of the archipelago. During the first days of August, the mercury hit 35°C, but after factoring the humidity, days felt like 46°C.
Japan is notorious for its incredibly hot summers, but these temperatures are very extreme, and this year’s heatwave has already claimed the lives of 57 people, with more than 18,000 being hospitalized. The toll has risen quickly from the first week of August, when 11 people died and more than 5,000 were hospitalized.
These extreme temperatures are occurring while other parts of the planet experience unprecedented heat waves. France and Germany had their hottest days ever recorded; and as that heatwave moved to Greenland, it was reported that 2019 could rival the heatwave that took place in 2012, and which caused a record ice melt.
One of the victims was a 28-year-old man who had a part-time job at Hirakata Park. Hirakata experienced temperatures that reached 33°C on July 28. By 20:00, temperatures had gone down to 28°C. The part-time worker was rehearsing a dance performance with other staff members at 19:30 when he fell ill. He had been wearing a costume that weighed about 16 kg.
The operators of the park have cancelled all performances wearing character costumes, and an investigation about the man’s death will take place.
The other deaths have occurred all across Japan, indicating that the high temperatures are not restricted to a single area. Some of the 18,000 people who were hospitalized were suffering from conditions that required them to stay in the hospital for more than 3 days.
2018 marked one of the worst heat waves Japan has experienced, which lasted almost 2 months, and ended up killing 138 people and hospitalizing more than 70,000.
To make things worse, the Ministry of the Environment has warned that, unless immediate measures are taken to battle climate change, Tokyo will reach temperatures of 43°C in 2100, and deaths from heatstroke totaling 15,000 will become the new normal.
Adding a cherry on top of the terrifying cake, the Ministry of the Environment has also stated that very powerful typhoons would hit Tokyo that year.
If you are in Japan during the summer, remember to stay hydrated and to wear light clothes. Additionally, stay indoors, particularly in places with AC, when temperatures are extremely hot.