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Be on guard against nature’s dangers

The Yomiuri Shimbun In the traditional Japanese almanac, the 10th or 11th day after the summer solstice is called “Hangesho.” It’s one of the 72 seasonal divisions that were used as a yardstick for farming-related activities in the past. This year, that day fell on July 2.

As the rainy season enters its middle stage, there are more torrential downpours. Meteorological essayist Atsushi Kurashima once wrote that flooding is called “Hangemizu” in some regions. Hangesho uses the kanji meaning “life” for sho, and Hangemizu uses the kanji meaning “water” for mizu. This suggests that “life” and “water” sit back to back, and I can’t help but recall last year’s heavy rains in western Japan.

More than 200 people were killed in river flooding and landslides. Rain — I was startled and saddened to see such a common weather phenomenon take away the lives of so many people. I remember last July that way.

Just like the situation around the same time period last year, rains have continued to fall intensively, particularly in the southern part of the Kyushu region. A “line-shaped rainband” — the name for a weather phenomenon that I heard multiple times with fear when heavy rains battered western Japan — developed, reportedly causing localized downpours there. The more rains fall, the bigger the risk becomes that dikes and mountains will collapse.

Evacuation advisories issued in the three prefectures of Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Miyazaki covered more than 1 million people in about 500,000 households. I only hope that standards meant to protect people’s lives will be significantly raised, and actions taken to move toward the side of “life.”

(This is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s July 2 issue.)Speech

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