Among the land of the rising sun, Tokyo stands tall as the capital of Japan, and the largest metropolitan area in the world. However, in the midst of climate changes seen around the world, Tokyo has been slammed with historic levels of snowfall not seen since 1998.
As the eastern capital of Japan, Tokyo is a home to much of the country’s influence. Both the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace have their seat among the metropolitan prefecture. The land of Tokyo was originally a small fishing village known as Edo. Between 1603 and 1868, Edo grew to become one of the largest cities in the world at that time with a population of one million. The city of Tokyo was established the following year, and merged with the Metropolitan Prefecture of Tokyo in 1943.
Both flights and train service were disrupted across Japan as a result of the heavy snowfall that coated the capital. Home to one of Asia’s busiest airport, the Haneda Airport was forced suspend all air traffic as a result of the winter storm, which includes more than 600 inbound and outbound flights. Additionally, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, more commonly known as Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, or NHK, reported that railway services of Shinkansen bullet trains were suspended by operators in western Japan. Around four inches of snow fell as of 3p.m. on February 8, which, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, is the most that has been observed since January of 1998. It was also reported that snowfall could continue up to levels of 16 inches across Tokyo’s metropolitan area, including the Kanto and Koshin regions.
In the midst of the less than favorable weather, citizens of the capital headed out to cast their vote for the next governor of Tokyo, during the Tokyo gubernatorial election of 2014. The former Japanese minister of health, Yoichi Masuzoe, is currently leading for the position, according to data from a survey conducted by the Nikkei newspaper from January 30 to February 2. His opponents, former prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa and former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associates Kenji Utsunomiya, have yet to close the gap.
The historic snowfall event that has slammed across Tokyo has also been met with its share of casualties. According to reports from the Agence France-Presse, at least three people have died, with hundreds of other snow-related injuries in tow. Among these fatalities were two elderly people who lost their lives in an automobile accident while in route to a nursing home. It is suspected that the car lost control while traveling along an icy road, which resulted in a head-on collision. Also, a man perished in Nagano when his car was stuck by a train at a railroad crossing. Tokyo Electric Power Company utility website has also reported occurrences of over 13,000 blackouts across Tokyo as well as four other prefectures as of Saturday afternoon. As the winter storm that has slammed the prefecture continues to move northeast, Tokyo must continue to brace itself this historic snowfall that has already taken its toll.
By Darrell Purcell