A businessman wipes his face while walking on a street during a heatwave in Tokyo, Japan July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Over 200 people in Yokohama’s Chinatown splashed water on streets and pavements in the hopes of providing some relief from the heat as temperatures nationwide rose to record highs on Monday (July 23) and the death toll mounted to over 65 dead in the last week.
Kyodo News Agency reported that at least 65 people died of heat stroke and over 20,000 people were hospitalized between July 16-22. According to the Fire and Defence Management Agency, at least 12 died the week before that.
Shouting “get cooler”, the crowd in Yokohama participated in an annual national event repeated across the nation that seeks to bring back an ancient tradition dating back hundreds of years called “uchimizu”, which is known to cool a street down – even if briefly – by a few degrees Celsius.
Today, which also happens to be the first day of midsummer in the Asian calendar and aptly called ‘Taisho’ or ‘blistering heat’ in Japanese, some companies also took to allowing their employees to work from home.
Since 2015, Tokyo-based Infoteria Corporation has been allowing its workers to telecommute on days in the summer when the heat reaches 35 degrees celsius (95 Fahrenheit) such as today.
Engineer Hidekazu Kishimoto says his long one hour and a half commute one-way to work is just too exhausting in this heat. His boss, Hitoshi Nagasawa agrees, saying the program has been good for employees’ morale.
At least 2,000 companies have also signed up this week to reduce commuting congestion and ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics by promoting working from home.
On Monday, temperatures rose to a record 41.1 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) in Kumagaya city northwest of Tokyo in a heatwave. The temperatures were also the highest in its recorded history dating back to 1896, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. — Reuters