The summer of 2018 will go down as one of the deadliest for Japan, rocked by floods, earthquakes, landslides, typhoons, and a record-shattering heatwave. I'm Mari Sito, reporting from Reuters from Japan, a country known for its natural disasters. But this year, a string of deadly disasters killed hundreds, and displaced thousands from their homes, and experts warn things might get even worse.
July's floods killed 176 people, a blistering heat wave killed at least 80, and a super typhoon in September killed 11, and left hundreds injured in its wake. Disaster experts that we've spoken to said that extreme weather is becoming more and more frequent. They say that climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.
And even for a wealthy country like Japan, the human and economic toll continues to rise. It really was a tale of extremes this summer when we were on the ground reporting in western Japan. Temperatures rose to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, while residents and volunteers were clearing out homes of floodwater and debris.
We saw many people almost fainting and passing out from the heat and exhaustion. Many question why one of the most developed countries in the world faced so many casualties. But the extreme weather seems to have taken authorities and citizens by surprise. Some residents in the worst flood-hit areas appeared to have ignored warnings, and other residents we spoke to didn't even know where to evacuate.
Japan has long prioritized quake-proofing buildings and other infrastructure because of the deadly earthquakes that are very common in this country. They've done far less to prepare for floods. Construction in Japan takes place on virtually every usable inch of land. Some said airports on low ground and homes built in risky areas added to the scale of this year's tragedies.
Japan is hosting huge international tournaments, like the Rugby's Sevens in 2019, and the Summer Olympics in 2020, and the extreme weather In 2018 is fueling concerns for the safety of athletes and spectators. Now, the government says it'll invest more than $60 billion to beef up infrastructure over the next three years to better prepare for disasters.