Powerful typhoon drenches Japan, soaks voters as they trudge to polls

Reuters | Published: 12:06, Oct 22,2017

 
 
Typhoon Japan

A woman walks in the rain past a sign directing voters to a voting station as Typhoon Lan approaches Japan’s mainland, in Osaka, western Japan, October 22. — Reuters photo

Heavy rain and wind lashed southern Japan on Sunday as a powerful typhoon neared, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and disrupting rail services on a national election day.

Typhoon Lan, classified as an intense Category 4 storm, was east of Okinawa and moving northeast at 40 kph on Sunday morning, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

It was expected to near the Japanese capital on Monday morning before veering east into the Northern Pacific.

The agency issued warnings for heavy rain and flooding in the Pacific side of Japan including the Tokyo metropolitan areas, even though the typhoon is likely to be downgraded to Category 3 by Sunday evening.

Tropical Storm Risk estimated Lan was packing peak winds of up to 232 km/h (144 mph) on Saturday.

Media reported the grounding of flights and interrupted rail services in southern and western parts of the country.

The bad weather could hinder voter turnout in the election, where prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition is on track to roughly match the two-thirds ‘super majority’ it held in parliament’s lower house before dissolution.

Divisions in the opposition camp and jitters over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes are likely to help the ruling coalition, media forecasts have said.

Authorities in Okinawa moved the voting date to Saturday for some remote islands as the storm neared.

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