TOKYO — A powerful typhoon struck Japan’s main island on Wednesday, stranding thousands of commuters in Tokyo and poured heavy rain on the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the nation’s tsunami-ravaged northeast.Typhoon-powered waves exploded against a breakwater in Kiho in central Japan on Wednesday.
Evacuation advisories went out to more than one million people across the main island of Honshu as torrential downpours caused flash floods in low-lying areas. As of Wednesday evening, six people had been found dead and seven others were missing, according to Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK.
The storm, called Typhoon Roke, directly hit greater Tokyo, briefly shutting down Japan’s commercial and political center. Strong winds and rains brought most subways and commuter trains to at least a temporary halt, stranding tens of thousands at stations. Bullet train and airline service was canceled.
Even so, most of Tokyo continued to have electric power even as the eye of the storm passed through the city on Wednesday evening, a testament to Japan’s generally robust basic infrastructure. According to Tokyo Electric Power, about 20,000 homes lost electricity in Tokyo, a city of almost 13 million residents.
Roke was the second powerful typhoon to strike Japan in the last month. Typhoon Talas, which made landfall in western Japan on Sept. 2, left 106 people dead or missing, the worst toll in decades.
Roke’s path was expected to take it over the Fukushima plant, which was crippled by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. The storm’s approach raised concerns that heavy rains could increase the risk of a leak of contaminated water from the crippled reactor buildings into the nearby Pacific Ocean. But Takeo Iwamoto, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric, the plant’s operator, said before the storm hit that the plant could weather it without further damage or risk of a leak. Company spokesmen could not be reached on Thursday morning.
The storm also threatened to flood coastal areas damaged by the tsunami and earthquake, which lowered the level of the ground by as much as two or three feet in some areas, and to wash radioactivity from the evacuated area around the plant into the sea.