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Japan on highest alert as huge typhoon set to hit Tokyo area

Japan is on its highest level of alert as a major typhoon expected to make landfall on Saturday evening edged closer to Tokyo and other areas of eastern Japan, with train operators and airlines planning to suspend many services in the metropolitan area.
Typhoon Hagibis, which could dump amounts of rain not seen since a deadly typhoon in 1958, is expected to continue drawing closer and reach the Pacific coast of central Japan or eastern Japan in the evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The projected path of the typhoon may result in further damage to areas in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo where another powerful typhoon triggered widespread power outages in September.
With winds forecast to reach 216 kilometers per hour, Typhoon Hagibis could potentially knock over houses in the Tokai area in central Japan and the Kanto-Koshin region, including the Tokyo metropolitan area, the agency warned.
Up to 1,000 millimeters of rain is expected in the Tokai region, and 600 mm in the Kanto-Koshin region, in the 24-hour period through midnight Saturday, the agency said.
There will be no shinkansen bullet train service between Tokyo and Nagoya on Saturday. Just six early morning services will run between Nagoya and Shin-Osaka, and operations between Shin-Osaka and Okayama will be canceled from the afternoon.
East Japan Railway Co said it will gradually suspend train runs in the Tokyo metropolitan area from Saturday morning and halt services around 1 p.m., including its Tohoku and Hokuriku shinkansen services.
All Nippon Airways Co said it will cancel all domestic flights and most international flights to and from Tokyo's Haneda and Narita airports on Saturday.
Japan Airlines Co has also decided to cancel most of its flights on Saturday.
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, located in a bayside area near the capital, will be closed from Saturday morning to Sunday at noon, according to operator Oriental Land Co. It will be the first whole-day closure for the theme parks since 2011 when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan.
Many department stores in and around Tokyo including Mitsukoshi, Isetan and Seibu will be closed Saturday, their operators said, adding that they will decide later whether to open the stores on Sunday.
Among manufacturers, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. said they will suspend operations at some of their plants Saturday.
According to the weather agency, the predicted rainfall amounts would be in line with those deposited by Typhoon Ida in September 1958, which left 1,200 people dead or missing across Japan.
That typhoon, known as Kanogawa in Japan, ripped through the Kanto region and the Izu Peninsula, causing the Kano River in Shizuoka Prefecture to overflow.
As of 2 a.m. Saturday, Typhoon Hagibis was traveling north at a speed of 20 kph, some 380 km southwest of Hachijo Island in the Pacific. It had an atmospheric pressure of 935 hectopascals at its center and was packing winds of up to 234 kph.


© KYODO
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