TOKYO: The Japanese capital on Thursday (Jan 25) recorded its lowest temperature in 48 years, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency, with temperatures in central Tokyo dropping to as low as -4 degrees Celsius in the morning.
This was due to a low atmospheric pressure system which chilled large areas of the country, Kyodo News reported.
This is the first time since January 1970 that such low temperatures have hit central Tokyo, the report said, adding that Fuchu in the outskirts of the city recorded a low of -8.4 degrees Celsius.
The cold weather is expected to continue over the weekend. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency on its website, it is forecasting lows of -4 degrees Celsius on Saturday for the capital.
"The weather agency has issued a low-temperature warning for Tokyo for the first time in 33 years ... The cold weather will continue until Saturday," deputy government spokesman Kotaro Nogami told reporters.
Tokyo experienced its heaviest snowstorm in four years earlier this week, disrupting train services and flights and prompting officials to advise Japanese workers to head home early.
The Tokyo fire department, which runs the ambulance service, said it had responded to 2,826 calls on Wednesday.
"Generally, we receive more calls in winter. But we think the combination of influenza, heavy snow and cold weather contributed to the record high number," a fire department spokesman told AFP.
The number of emergency call-outs was the highest since the service began in 1936 and well above the average of around 2,000.
The annual number of emergency calls has been on the rise for the past eight years in Tokyo, the spokesman added.
Citing the fire department, Kyodo News added that 592 people in Tokyo had been taken to hospital by rescuers between Monday and Wednesday this week.