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Flights Canceled, Trains Delayed as Snow Blankets East Japan

Flights Canceled, Trains Delayed as Snow Blankets Eastern Japan
People push vehicles after they lost traction and skidded on a snow and ice covered road in Tokyo on Jan. 14, 2013. Photographer: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Snow delayed train services and disrupted flights in Japan as Tokyo was blanketed by the first snowfall of the season.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a gale and snow advisory for central Tokyo, with seven centimeters (2.8 inches) of snow already fallen in the city, Kenji Okada, a forecaster for the agency, said by phone today. The snow came 11 days later than the average first fall and six days earlier than last year, according to the official.

There were delays of as long as 15 minutes for bullet train services to and from Tokyo, Central Japan Railway Co. said on its website. Some of the train lines operated by East Japan Railway Co. have been halted, the company said. Japan’s financial markets were closed today for a national holiday.

The weather also disrupted traffic in the Japanese capital.

“It’s the worst snow in my 51 years of experience,” said Katsutoshi Nokimura, a 74-year-old taxi driver in Tokyo. “Some people abandoned their cars after getting stuck. It’s chaos.”

Some taxi companies told drivers to return to their depots because the conditions are too dangerous, Nokimura said.

All Nippon Airways Co. canceled 250 domestic flights as of 5:30 p.m. local time, affecting about 58,000 passengers, it said in a faxed statement. Japan Airlines Co. said it canceled 469 domestic flights, affecting more than 42,000 passengers, as of 5 p.m. One runway at Narita International Airport was closed temporarily for checks due to heavy snow, NHK said.

As much as 50 centimeters of snow is expected in the Kanto and Koshin regions and up to 40 centimeters in the northeastern region of the nation by tomorrow morning, the weather agency said in a statement. Strong winds were also forecast in areas facing the Pacific Ocean across the country, the agency said.

Most schools were closed for Coming-of-Age Day in Japan. KAIS International School in Tokyo and Yokohama International School in Kanagawa prefecture sent pupils home early.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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