2018 ushered in a sombre summer for Japan as the nation found itself beset by a spade of natural disasters – most notably a typhoon on 4th September and an earthquake three days later.
The barrage of natural disasters began with Typhoon Jebi, a powerful storm which entered western Japan, leaving a trail of destruction in the Kansai region. Social and mainstream media sites have been filled with pictures of the aftermath, depicting cars clustered in a pile in Kobe, and a tanker slamming into the Osaka bridge, which forced the nearby airport to close and shut down hundreds of flights. The typhoon is reported to have killed 10 people, and caused over 8,000 residents to seek refuge in emergency shelters across 24 prefectures. The storm also brought intense flooding to the region, obstructing rescue and aid.
Japan’s predicament was furthered by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that struck Hokkaido on 7 September, leaving 39 dead and at least 640 injured. The earthquake caused a power shortage to 3 million homes on the island, and triggered a swathe of landslides that swallowed rows of houses in the small town of Atsuma.
Experts attribute the sudden series of freak events to unpredictable weather caused by climate change. The Japan Meteorological Agency states that based on surface trends over the past three decades, the number of torrential rain events in Japan has been increasing, and is likely to get worse.
The bad weather is also set to seep into Japan’s economy. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that the damage sustained by infrastructure such as public transport and urban services is likely to upset Japan’s productivity and tourism. Industries such as Hokkaido Electric are also losing investors at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, a twist of the knife in a company already struggling to return electricity to affected parts of the country.
Rescue and repair efforts are still ongoing across the nation.