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Children try to cool down by eating ice cream July 22 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo:
Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty

Just weeks after floods that killed 200, Japan is facing another threatening natural phenomenon: a heat wave reaching record temperatures nationwide, already reportedly killing at least 70 people.

The big picture: Because of the lack of an El Niño event in the Pacific (which boosts temperatures), 2018 wasn't expected to be a record-shattering hot year, but it's shaping up to be a top five warmest year on record globally. The 106 °F reading, which topped the previous all-time high of 105.8°F in 2013, occurred in Kumagaya, a town 40 miles north of Tokyo.

Why it matters: Intense, long-lasting heat waves are one of the most robust signs of global warming, according to numerous scientific studies. This will compound the challenges and costs for countries working to recover from extreme weather.

  • The floods earlier this month displaced 1.6 million people.
  • Now, tens of thousands have entered hospitals with symptoms of heat stroke and 70 people have died as a result of the heat, according to Kyodo News Agency.

What's next: The heat wave has blanketed the country for two weeks now. Air conditioning remains uncommon in schools and cooler parts of the country, making it difficult for many to find relief.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

54 mins ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.