Japan's heatwave is so bad it has been declared a natural disaster as temperatures exceed 41C

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
A man wipes the sweat from his face in the scorching heat in Tokyo (AP)

While the UK bakes in an ongoing heatwave, the weather in Japan is so extreme that it has been declared a natural disaster.

An intense heatwave has hit Japan, with record highs of 41.1C in Kumagaya and 40.8C in Oume, both near Tokyo, on Monday, as the country struggles to recover from its worst flooding and landslide disasters in decades.

At least 80 people have died in the past week as a result of the intense heat sweeping the country, with warnings issued of ‘unprecedented levels of heat’.

People make their way in the scorching heat at a business district in Tokyo as the Japan heatwave is declared a natural disaster (AP)
The thermometer reads 41.0C in Kumagaya city, north of Tokyo (AP)

Over 22,000 people – nearly half of them elderly – have been taken to hospital with heat stroke.

And forecasters say the heat in Japan shows no sign of lessening, with temperatures of at least 35C predicted until early August.

Japan Meteorological Agency spokesman Motoaki Takekawa said: ‘We are observing unprecedented levels of heat in some areas.

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He added that the heatwave was ‘a threat to life and we recognise it as a natural disaster’.

School holidays in Japan may be extended as less than half of the country’s public schools are equipped with air conditioning.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said: ‘As a record heatwave continues to blanket the country, urgent measures are required to protect the lives of schoolchildren.’

Searing hot temperatures are forecast for wide swaths of Japan and South Korea in a long-running heat wave (AP)

Weather extremes including record temperatures, heatwaves and drought are being seen across the northern hemisphere in the first half of summer, hitting health and agriculture and causing dangerous wildfires.

Experts have warned climate change was ‘loading the dice towards extreme weather,’ with rising global temperatures fuelling heatwaves.