Typhoon Nears Western Japan

TOKYO (AP) -- A powerful typhoon was approaching Japan's main archipelago of Honshu on Monday, threatening to hit large areas of western and central Japan with heavy rain and high winds, as many people were traveling for a Buddhist holiday week.

Typhoon Lan was packing winds of up to 126 kph (78 mph) as it headed northwest over the Pacific Ocean south of Cape Shionomisaki in the central Japanese prefecture of Wakayama, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The typhoon is expected to make landfall on Tuesday morning, cut across the region and veer east toward Hokkaido over waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the JMA said.

The typhoon, arriving in the middle of the Bon Buddhist holiday week, is expected to affect many Japanese traveling to visit their families and relatives, as transportation and event operators in the typhoon's predicted path have decided to suspend services through Tuesday.

Central Japan Railway Co. said Shinkansen "bullet" train operations between Nagoya in central Japan and Okayama in western Japan will be suspended, and services between Tokyo and Nagoya will also be largely reduced. Expressways in the region will be also closed, and hundreds of domestic flights will be grounded on Tuesday.

Representatives from several prefectures in central and western Japan who had planned to attend an annual memorial marking the Aug. 15 end of World War II have canceled their trips to Tokyo. The scheduled games in Japan's hugely popular annual national high school baseball tournament, held at Koshien stadium in Hyogo prefecture, will be postponed from Tuesday to Wednesday.

The JMA predicted up to 45 centimeters (17.7 inches) of rainfall would hit the Tokai region in central Japan over the next 24 hours through Tuesday evening. It urged residents in the area to avoid inessential outings and to use caution against mudslides, flooding and thunderstorms.