Severe Heatwave in Japan Poses Risks for International Tourists

By Ivan PetrenkoJul 10, 2024 22:30 PMNews
Couple walking on a street in Japan
Tourists urged to take heat precautions. Source: pixabay

Japan is experiencing a severe heatwave, with the meteorological agency issuing heatstroke alerts for 26 of the country's 47 prefectures. Temperatures soared to 40°C for the first time this year, causing significant travel disruptions and health risks, particularly for the elderly and young children.

On Sunday, Shizuoka in central Japan recorded a temperature of 40°C, the highest since records began in 1940. Additionally, 244 other locations in Japan saw temperatures rise to 35°C or higher. The Japan Meteorological Agency has advised residents to stay indoors, use air conditioners, and drink plenty of water to prevent heatstroke.

The heatwave has already resulted in four deaths. Victims include elderly individuals who were performing outdoor activities. In Tokyo alone, 198 people were hospitalized with suspected heatstroke on Sunday. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency reported that over half of the 2,276 people hospitalized for heatstroke in late June were over 65, underscoring the vulnerability of this demographic.

Hot and humid summers are typical in Japan, particularly after the rainy season ends in mid-July. However, experts attribute the recent temperature spikes to global warming. The meteorological agency warned earlier this year that this summer could surpass last year's record-breaking heat.

Travel Disruptions and Safety Tips

The heatwave has also disrupted travel, affecting both domestic and international visitors. Tourists are advised to stay updated on heatstroke alerts and take precautions to ensure their safety. The extreme temperatures can lead to travel delays and cancellations, impacting the overall travel experience.

Tourists in Japan should take several precautions to protect themselves from the extreme heat. Staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activities during peak heat hours, using air conditioning, and wearing light clothing are essential. Following local guidelines and advisories from authorities is crucial to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Historical Data and Government Response

Historically, Japan's highest recorded temperature was 41.1°C in Hamamatsu in 2020. Heatstroke-related deaths have significantly increased, with an average of 1,295 deaths per year from 2018 to 2022, compared to 201 per year between 1995 and 1999. The majority of these fatalities are among those over 65, highlighting the need for increased awareness and preventive measures.

The Japanese government and local authorities have been proactive in issuing heatstroke alerts and providing guidelines to mitigate the heatwave's impact. Public awareness campaigns focus on educating residents and tourists about the risks and prevention of heatstroke. For example, in Kyoto, nine children showed symptoms of heatstroke during a school trip, with three requiring hospitalization.

Japan’s current heatwave, marked by record-high temperatures and multiple fatalities, underscores the severe impact of extreme weather on public health and travel. Tourists should stay informed, hydrated, and limit outdoor activities to ensure their safety. As climate change continues to influence weather patterns, vigilance and adaptability to extreme conditions will be essential for safe travel.

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