Western Japan braces for strike from powerful Typhoon Jebi

-A +A

(Sept 4): Typhoon Jebi bore down on western Japan on Tuesday, grounding flights and halting trains in Japan’s second-largest population centre. Authorities warns when it makes landfall later in the day, it could be the strongest storm to do so in Japan in a quarter of a century.

The typhoon, the 21st of the season, is bearing down on the area of the country home to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. It will likely make landfall on Shikoku, Japan’s smallest main island, or the Kii Peninsula by midday, carrying winds of up to 162 kilometers per hour (100 mph), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The storm was located about 130 kilometers south of Shikoku as of 7:45 a.m. local time, heading north at about 35 kph. After hitting western Japan, it is set to speed up further, as it passes over the main island of Honshu and into the Sea of Japan, where it will weaken. While Tokyo will be spared the worst of the storm, authorities have warned of very strong winds and heavy rain even in the capital.

ANA Holdings Inc said on Tuesday morning that it was canceling 247 domestic and 8 international flights, while Japan Airlines Co pulled 176 domestic flights.

West Japan Railway Co has begun halting local trains and plans to stop all local services in the area’s three main cities by noon. Shinkansen high-speed trains between Osaka and Hiroshima were set to be canceled from mid-morning, with JR West warning it might not be able to restart services all day. Services from Tokyo to Osaka were running reduced operations.

Kyodo News reported Honda Motor Co halted operations at its Suzuka plant in Mie prefecture on Tuesday. Kyoto-based Kyocera Corp and Murata Manufacturing Co said they will close some of their facilities in the prefecture northeast of Osaka. The Sankei daily reported Kubota Corp and Daikin Industries Ltd kept workers home from their facilities in the region surrounding Osaka.

The Universal Studios Japan theme park, one of Osaka’s main tourist draws, will shut down for the entire day. Authorities called on residents to avoid any unnecessary trips outside.

The typhoon may also bring further downpours to areas that were devastated by sudden rainfall in early July that killed more than 200 people. Jebi is predicted to bring heavy rains through Wednesday.