Hot and hotter: This year's high temperatures a prelude to a much, much warmer Japan


If you think that summer is hot now, wait another five years. Shukan Post (July 22) issues some warnings and predictions, including the terrifying possibility of the mercury eventually climbing to 50 degrees Celsius. Japan's current record high temperature, set in Kumagaya, Saitama on July 23, 2018, and matched in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka on August 17, 2020, is 41.1 degrees.

"Temperature measurements conducted by the Meteorological Agency are calibrated at a height 1.5 meters above a grass surface," says Shuichi Tominaga, an environmental journalist. "But temperatures of city sidewalks are considerably above that, and if reflection of heat waves that create 'heat islands' are taken into account, some places may approach 50 degrees.

"Five to ten years from now, it might very well be common for some areas to exceed 50 degrees," Tominaga added.

A 50-degree day would surely push the total number of citizens seeking treatment for heatstroke at medical facilities beyond the 100,000 mark.

Just as the coronavirus pandemic led to more people working from home, the prospect of hotter summers may impact on actual working hours.

"In countries where temperatures reach 50 degrees, such as Eritrea and Saudi Arabia, people stay in their homes at midday and space their work between mornings and evenings," says Taishi Sugiyama, a research director at Canon's Institute for Global Studies. "A similar workstyle may develop in Japan. At the very least, it will become more common for people to avoid leaving their homes, and work remotely."

Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Research, notes that for every one degree increase in summer average temperature, a household's budget is impacted by an additional 2,000 yen. So from June through August, family outlays rise by an average of 6,000 yen.

"If temperatures reach 50 degrees or higher, we can expect major outlays for air conditioning and power utilization, as well as increased expenditures for medical costs and drugs due to more people going to hospitals," he says. "We can also expect growth in delivery services as more people utilize meal delivery services and do their shopping online."

People's homes themselves may even start to change, with wider propagation of climate-controlled basement rooms that can maintain a constant 15 degrees Celsius year-round.

"The day may come when newly constructed houses feature underground rooms as standard," remarks the aforementioned Tominaga.

Another major concern as temperatures climb will be securing a stable food supply. It may come as a surprise, but farmers in Ibaraki and Saitama, prefectures on Tokyo's periphery, have begun cultivating mangoes, a tropical fruit.

"If higher temperatures continue to move northward so rapidly, we won't be able to keep up," predicts Tominaga. "I suppose that many farm products will suffer from the effects of higher temperatures, with crop failures caused by premature sprouting or invasion by insect pests."

Soybeans and spinach are said to be particularly vulnerable to damage from high temperatures. This portends serious problems for Japan, which already suffers from low self-sufficiency in foodstuffs.

Tominaga points out how sea products are also being affected.

"As sea water becomes increasingly acidic, coral reefs suffer destruction, which negatively impacts the entire ecosystem."

As a result of changing temperatures, harvests of sanma (Pacific saury) and buri (yellowtail amberjack) will decline, and we can expect to see larger catches of flying fish, which thrive in the tropics.

Meanwhile, higher ocean temperatures may be making typhoons more frequent and more powerful. Last year weather watchers were surprised to see the season's first typhoon make landfall in April. And typhoons' paths are also affected, causing some to adopt a meandering course that is more difficult to track.

"The appearance of mega typhoons similar to Typhoon Vera, which devastated Ise Bay and other parts of central Japan in September 1959, killing over 5,000 people, can be anticipated," said Tominaga.

It's already past time for Japan, as an emerging "50-degree nation," to start thinking proactively over measures to deal with a warmer world, the article concludes.

© Japan Today

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If only scientists had warned world leaders that this would happen if nothing were done to curb emissions. Why didn't they speak up sooner?

Oh right.

11 ( +18 / -7 )

A lot needs to be done, quickly.

And btw, it Is not just a case of Japan warming.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

So the days temperature is measured over a GRASS surface ?

When most Japanese live in concrete "heat islands " , mega cities like Tokyo etc.

Were screwed basically.

Underground living rooms....I like that idea.....unless its flooding .

12 ( +17 / -5 )

When I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia in the late 70s and early 80s the summer working day was 0700h to 1200h and 1600h to 2000h because the temp reached 48 - 50 deg C every day in summer.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I fully acknowledge climate change and the science behind it.

But I don't feel that this year is any hotter than any other year I have been here and certainly not any hotter than my first year here in 2001.

My electric bill here in Hyogo is lower this year than the previous 2 years.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I don't feel that this year is any hotter than any other year I have been here

I came to live in Japan in 1976. We used an electric fan on the hottest days, but felt no need at all for an air conditioner. We ‘treated’ ourselves to an air con in the bedroom around the mid 1990s, and around ten years later we felt the need to have one in every room in the house.

It is definitely much, much hotter now than it was a mere five years ago, and getting hotter each year.

30 degrees used to be a hot summer’s day; now we breathe a sigh of relief when it’s ‘only’ 30 degrees.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Oh no, I thought I wanted to go back home to stay, but maybe not...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Global warming is real, and an existential threat.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Another reporter who needs to stop the sensationalism and get their facts correct. Buri is a winter fish, caught off the Nihonkai seacoast. For the last few years (20+), it has been plenty cold and more than enough snow has fallen. The buri has been delicious. Why talk about a non existent problem.

Another existential threat article with no scientific backing and also a major flaw with the example is the summer heat this year. Around the world, June 2022 was the coolest on record. July was hot and the current days recently in Tokyo, 30 to 33 degrees is what I have experienced over the last few years. Humidity is low this year, so it seems better than it did in 2018 and 2019. With a million years of history, who can say for confidence that this one year makes a trend that did not happen in millennia past? We can't afford the 900kg of heavy oil it takes to run a wind turbine and it kind of defeats the purpose. If you are interested, look at the costs.

Bring on those downvotes, along with more nuclear power.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )


0 ( +1 / -1 )

Can't link. Search this: "Offshore wind is too expensive, and that’s unlikely to change"

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Mike James, one swallow does not make a spring. Quoting one year is irrelevant due to the natural variability of weather, what is telling is the longer term trend across the world, which is clear weather patterns are changing and not in a way beneficial to human civilisation. More extreme weather of all kinds across the globe and rapidly rising sea levels (most densely populated cities are by the sea on low lying land).

As well as addressing the underlying causes, adaptation is going to be needed in every country as it is already too late to prevent some of the inevitable impacts. Specific to the temperature rises predicated for Japan in this article Japan has a lot of work to do and little indication of it being addressed. The housing stock seems inappropriately designed and inadequate to deal with the current weather patterns let alone the future.

To detail all the changes necessary would turn this in to an article not a post, so I will desist :)

7 ( +8 / -1 )

"A similar workstyle may develop in Japan. At the very least, it will become more common for people to avoid leaving their homes, and work remotely."

Well... yes and no. They'll be encouraged to arrive at work before sun up, and leave well after sundown... you know, to avoid the heat. If it just so happens they are overworked during the time they are staying inside mid-day, well...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

And yes, often the weather forecast that it's 35°C or so is ridiculous. The heat coming off the ground, usually cement, and walls of buildings makes it WELL above 40°C in many cases. 50°C is no stretch. Roads will start melting and warping soon.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Mike James: "Who can say this did not within the last million years?" Well, scientists can say, from analysing ice in glaciers which has been around that long. We have had several ice ages during that time, but not warming at this crazy pace. I am with you re. nuclear power, though. Whatever risks it has are more acceptable than the damage global warming is causing, which is going to get worse each year. What kind of planet are we going to leave to our grand-children, I wonder?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And as we all know, climate change is mainly a manufactured phenom due to human activities, NAMELY the industrial production and disposal of goods/products etc. as well as the petroleum/chemical industries...all done to maximize profits for, when you get down to it, a handful of families and their associates, engendered by the passive acceptance of the status quo.

Was it worth waging all the wars, all the endless spin doctor media campaigns?...the planet is on the brink of ruin, what a waste of an incredibly beautiful world.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And as we all know, climate change is mainly…

Not exactly, ‘we all’, only a few people like you and your loudly shouting GX , carbon neutrality and climate change triggered de-industrialization friends ‘know’ that. The vast majority on this planet doesn’t care so much about your theories and I bet they also soon get quite angry if you continue to radically set them into practice, only because you are at power, very loud and propaganda skilled and have the money to afford the replacements you suggest. Most people of the 8 bln. on this planet won’t ever be able to buy an EV, solar panels , caring about environmental issues or climate change and all this. You’re simply outnumbered and microscopically small in relation, although your media and political representation might look overwhelming. But it’s of course not.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )


The point of posting here is for the people who peruse JT.

And we do ALL know at this point that human-engendered climate change is no longer simply a "theory"...and btw, never mentioned EV, solar, etc., so yeah you are way off here.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It's already past time for Japan, as an emerging "50-degree nation," to start thinking proactively over measures to deal with a warmer world, the article concludes.

If it's going to be possible to live in Tokyo by the end of this century, the government here must start limiting the use of cars, make all roads one-way only, and use the extra space to plant trees and build pedestrian and cycle paths. Just imagine, every road in Tokyo lined with trees giving shade and reducing temperatures.

But are they going to do this? Not a chance.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I've lived in Kansai for over 30 years, and I say every summer has been equally brutal except for one weird cool summer we had back in the 90s. Autumn's on the way. Calm down everyone.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You might want to consider moving to the cooler North of Japan before property prices start to shoot up there.

Forget the usual 'plywood & draughts' and build your own fully insulated, climate resistant property, avoiding flood risk areas. Solar panels, a turbine, domestic water storage etc.

Also forget about the various financial aspects of property ownership in Japan - the myriad tax deductions that can influence design issues. You are not investing in your property, but in your own survivability.

And for a side hustle, indoor hydroponic farming may be a plan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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