Typhoon Vongfong struck Japan with winds of up to 180 kilometers per hour and massive downpours of rain. The typhoon has already injured at least 35 people after hitting Okinawa and moving on to Kyushu in the southern part of the country. A slow-moving storm, evacuation warnings were able to be issued prior to its arrival for 150,000 residents. The effects were widespread, toppling trees and causing floods. Power was lost to over 60,000 homes. This is the second major storm to batter the area in a week. The previous storm claimed the lives of three United States service men who were washed out at see off Okinawa. This storm, still dangerous though downgraded from super-typhoon status, is expected to continue its march through Japan and reach the Tokyo area by Tuesday.
Aside from the physical impact of the typhoon, there was also a need to delay elections which were scheduled to be held Sunday in Tomigusuku City, in the southern part of Okinawa. They have been postponed one week to allow everyone to participate. While still a hugely impactful storm, authorities are counting themselves lucky that the damage was not more devastating than they were. Some reports, however, are claiming that this may be just the beginning in terms of meteorological impacts in store for the region. One such report issued in July predicted a dramatic increase in weather catastrophes due to the effects of carbon emissions from industrial growth could have a devastating economic effect on Japan and the rest of the region.
The report suggests that industrialization without significant efforts to mitigate carbon emissions presents a losing proposition, as the resultant increase in cyclone strength and the damage done by storms of this nature have a negative economic impact. The study shows that rebuilding from these weather disasters is slow, and the financial impact of the re-construction is slow, and not sufficient to offset the cost of the damage done. If the predictions of this study come true, and Japan is struck with typhoons and cyclones of increasing strength, the nation may be in for a significant blow to the economy as a backlash from the impacts of hastening climate change with increased industrial growth. While not a conclusive direct cause and effect as of yet, the increase in number and intensity of storms does tend to lend credence to the thought that Japan and Asia in general may be in store for accelerated weather deterioration and the economic challenges that come with it.
As the super typhoon diminishes to a smaller storm and makes its way across Japan to Tokyo and beyond, many residents feel lucky to have avoided a more disastrous strike. While 35 injured and tens of thousands without power is not a negligible toll taken for sure, the ability to see and prepare for the storm ahead of time provided opportunities to evacuate and mitigate the impact of the storm somewhat. For the Japanese government, however, this season’s weather may prove a warning of things to come and provide food for thought with respect to policies and planning for future industrial growth.