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Asia Minute: Japan and South Korea Suffer Record Heat

Yamaguchi Yoshiaki

Summertime means hotter weather. Last Wednesday, Lihue hit a record high at 87-degrees. But in recent weeks, most of Japan and parts of Korea have been baking under far higher temperatures.

106 degrees Fahrenheit. Or technically 105.98.

That was the temperature Monday about 35 miles from Tokyo in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. It’s a new record high for anywhere in Japan.

The capital city was not much cooler — topping out above 105 degrees.

It’s been a deadly heat wave in recent days — Kyodo News says at least 77 people have died in Japan because of the heat in the last couple of weeks. More than 30,000 have been hospitalized.

Over the weekend, the Tokyo Fire Department answered more than 3,100 ambulance calls — mostly due to the heat. That’s the highest number of ambulance calls since the city started counting them in 1936.

It’s been close to record heat in South Korea’s capital city in recent days – 100 degrees in Seoul on Sunday.

Credit Bluegheena / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
A village, river and rice padies in South Korea in the early summer of 2013.

Temperatures have also soared in the countryside this summer, and that’s having an impact on vegetable crops. Supplies are down and prices are up. The Agricultural Ministry says the price of cabbage has shot up 70-percent in less than a month – radishes up nearly 30-percent.

Those are two of the key ingredients of kim-chi — the fermented cabbage dish that is a staple in South Korea.

Those sweltering temperatures are expected to continue into early August.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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