A flooded residential area in Okura, Yamagata Prefecture, is flooded on Wednesday after the Mogami River overflowed its banks due to heavy rain. Photo: KYODO

Floods hit northeastern Japan as major river bursts banks


Heavy rain triggered extensive flooding in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Yamagata through Wednesday morning after a river burst its banks at several locations.

While no casualties have been reported, the prefectural government has been trying to assess the extent of flood damage along the Mogami River, which began to overflow late Tuesday.

The land ministry has confirmed the river breached its banks at three locations in the town of Oishida as well as in Okura village, with at least 80 hectares of land inundated by Wednesday morning.

The Mogami River is the seventh longest river in Japan and the river basin accounts for about 75 percent of Yamagata Prefecture.

According to the prefecture, around 90 homes have been damaged by the flooding and nearly 2,500 people have been evacuated.

Rainfall of over 150 millimeters was recorded in some areas of Yamagata in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, while the city of Nagai experienced 205 millimeters. Nagai and the prefecture's two other cities of Murayama and Higashine faced record rainfall across 72 hours, although it had mostly stopped by Wednesday morning.

The Yamagata bullet train temporarily suspended services on Wednesday, East Japan Railway Co said.

In neighboring Iwate Prefecture, more than a dozen buildings in Hanamaki and Oshu have been flooded as of Wednesday morning, according to the prefecture.


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As far as I can see none of the rivers did actually burst their banks. The banks held, but overflowed in several places, I think. The difference is not at first obvious, but to engineers they are very different processes, necessitating different solutions into the future.

Either way, terrible for the people flooded out.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Maybe they shouldn't build houses alongside the river.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

So sad, will pray for those peoples,,, good if the rain pour in Tokyo..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is why Japan should be at the forefront of drone development in order to allow people to access 80% of their (at present) inaccessible land!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The rainy season ended in Kyushu yesterday, so hopefully by early next week the rainy season should clear the country. What an absolute drenching it's been this last 7 weeks.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Terrible for those affected, Japan needs to be preparing for more flooding and disasters as it it doesnt already.

But Tokyo could be sadly suffering badly if those big rivers are unable to cope with the typhoons or heavy rains.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

japanese government should spend money on them instead of mask distribution.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Jeff Lee

Maybe they shouldn't build houses alongside the river.

Mountainous country, bugger all other options. Rivers make plains which is where farming occurs. Build on a mountains and landslides are a constant threat. Where do you suggest?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

To prevent future flooding of homes and essential structures, flood plain and levels should be marked on area maps.  Planning officials can then determine where it is safe to build.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@simon g

Mountainous country, bugger all other options.

Sounds like you've never seen Okura from Google maps. Lots of flat land away from the rivers, mostly farmland or forests. The buildings are densely packed together and hugging the riverbank.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Pretty much anywhere in Japan flat enough to build is potentially subject to flooding either regularly or in extreme cases. So housing and infrastructure should be built so as to cope with it. Natural passive mitigation (not pouring concrete) can mitigate the effects.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is why Japan should be at the forefront of drone development in order to allow people to access 80% of their (at present) inaccessible land!

Sorry, how would drones help??

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Sorry, how would drones help??

No idea, but it might do more than praying, as 95% of the JapanToday comments suggest...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sadly, people who own the valuable agricultural land on a flood plain, and lose everything in a flood, usually do not get enough compensation to rebuild anything higher than a one-storey (story) house there.

The general theory is that if you do have the cash, it would be best to rebuild with a car port on the ground floor and at least two more storeys (stories) above.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No one has mentioned the overly wet rainy season and the connection to global warming( heating).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Damn, again?

We’re about to be hit by the first storm of the season here for Florida.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Dan, the banks did not break. They overflowed. That means some kind of water flowing in that river. Interpret as you like.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This years rain felt like a non stop typhoon, it's just a reminder of what coming in the future.

Get ready for more like this unless we start respecting nature and stop warming the globe.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You know what, most prefectures and cities already publish maps showing flood prone areas and if you are a home owner you can get those from city hall really easy, but the thing is the land is cheaper in those areas and more affordable so people kinda buy there because they see it as an affordable risk . Untill the river actually floods once every 100 years or so, like those big tsunamis, but after 100 years or so people no longer remember or care and so theres money to be made in that low lying land and people sell n buy it again and so the cycle continues once more.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

 "....people kinda buy there"

This crazy practice of building houses in danger zones is mainly why most of Japan's rivers are concreted. Proper zoning would have preserved much of the nature that the cement industry has obliterated.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most people live in cities and Tokyo has the most expensive and comprehensive anti flooding measures in the world.

However, country districts do not.

In Japan, there is a lot of land on relatively low mountains which is under utilized.

Access to the tops of mountains which do not experience landslides could be accessed by fleets of autonomous drones, carrying people and goods.

Chinese companies have already developed autonomous drones capable of ferrying goods and people safely and efficiently.

It is no longer necessary to build on flood plains.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds like you've never seen Okura from Google maps. Lots of flat land away from the rivers, mostly farmland or forests. The buildings are densely packed together and hugging the riverbank.

Jeff, you are kidding me. I've been through Yamagata a bunch of times, Okura is built in a valley . that's the tip off buddy, it's a valley bordered by steep hills and mountains. Where are these flat plains? Sure as heck ain't in Okura Village. Facts are one thing but you're not even on the same page.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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