Japan is bracing for the arrival of an extremely powerful typhoon in southwestern prefectures, with the weather agency urging maximum caution and planning under way Saturday for the suspension of public transportation as well as business and factory shutdowns.
The Japan Meteorological Agency warned against strong gusts, wild waves and high tides as Typhoon Haishen is expected to approach the Okinawa region in southern Japan on Sunday and come near Kagoshima Prefecture later that day.
As of 10 p.m. Saturday, the typhoon was moving north-northwest at a speed of about 15 kilometers per hour some 40 km off Minamidaito Island of Okinawa. It had an atmospheric pressure of 920 hectopascals at its center, packing winds of up to 252 kilometers per hour.
The lower the atmospheric pressure at the center, the greater a typhoon's strength as it causes high tides when approaching coastal areas.
Southern areas on the southwestern main island of Kyushu could see rainfall of up to 800 millimeters in the 24 hours to 6 p.m. Monday and northern Kyushu up to 500 mm, the agency said.
With the agency calling for maximum caution, many residents gathered at evacuation centers in Okinawa and Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima, while some hotels in Kyushu reached full occupancy with people shunning public shelters for fear of contracting the coronavirus.
Operators of public transportation services also stepped up precautions ahead of the super typhoon.
Kyushu Railway Co. said its bullet and local train services will be suspended on Monday, while West Japan Railway Co. said it will cancel Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train services between Hiroshima and Hakata stations all day Monday.
Central Japan Railway Co. said it was considering suspending or changing destinations for some Tokaido Shinkansen services on Monday.
Airlines were also affected, with a number of flights to and from Okinawa and nearby airports canceled.
Major manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said they plan to halt operations of their factories in areas expected to be affected by the typhoon.
Seven-Eleven Japan Co. plans to close about 1,650 convenience stores in all seven prefectures in Kyushu as well as Yamaguchi Prefecture, while Lawson Inc. will shut a total of 1,060 outlets in the Kyushu region as well as Yamaguchi and Ehime prefectures.
Many schools in the Kyushu region are expected to be closed Monday. As the typhoon raised flooding risk at six rivers in Kyushu and a wide area of western Japan braced for severe weather, eight prefectures had released water at 40 dams to prevent disaster, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said.
Useful resources for foreign residents and visitors in Japan
- Japan Meteorological Agency's weather, earthquake, tsunami, and volcano information - Available in English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Thai, Nepali, Khmer, Burmese, and Mongolian.
- Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's XRAIN - Realtime information on nationwide rainfall and river level. Available in English.
- Japan Tourism Agency's Safety tips - Available in English, Korean, and Chinese.