Japan swelters as heat wave prompts power crunch warning
Heat wave, fires damaging Tunisia’s grain harvest
TOKYO, June 27: Japan's government warned Monday of a power crunch as extreme heat hits the country, with temperature records toppling and Tokyo's rainy season declared over at the earliest date on record.
Temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) were forecast in Tokyo throughout Monday, and the mercury is not expected to drop below 34 until Sunday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).
The power warning was initially issued for late Monday afternoon, and was subsequently extended to cover the same time on Tuesday, because solar generation dips as the sun sets.
"We ask the public to reduce energy consumption during the early evening hours when the reserve ratio falls," Yoshihiko Isozaki, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told a regular press briefing.
But he warned that residents should do what was needed to stay cool and avoid heatstroke.
Much of Japan would normally be experiencing rainy season at this time of year, but the JMA on Monday declared the season over in the Kanto region, home to Tokyo, and neighbouring Koshin area.
It was the earliest end to the season since records began in 1951 and a full 22 days earlier than usual.
The agency also declared an end to rainy season in central Japan's Tokai and part of southern Kyushu, saying this year's rainy season in these areas and Kanto-Koshin was the shortest on record.
On Sunday, Isesaki city in Gunma prefecture north of Tokyo logged the hottest temperature ever seen in Japan in June, at 40.2C.
Meanwhile, a heat wave and fires are badly damaging Tunisia's grain harvest, leading the farmers union to forecast that output will fall well short of government hopes.
Loss of grain production comes as the North African country struggles with food importation costs driven higher by the war in Ukraine.
Agriculture Minister Mhamoud Elyess Hamza this month forecast the 2022 grain harvest would reach 1.8 million tonnes, up 10% on last year's.
But farmers union official Mohamed Rejaibia, pointing to fires that began raging over much of the country last month, said that was no longer possible.
"The grain harvest will not be more than 1.4 million tonnes," said Rejaibia, a member of the union's executive office. "Some of it will be lost to fires and some perhaps during collection."
The union and experts say the crop also is suffering direct damage from high temperatures, which have already reached 47 Celsius (117 Fahrenheit) this summer and are forecast to go as high as 49 Celsius. Moreover, the heatwave is could hinder agricultural workers in collecting the harvest.