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Japan's newly-appointed Environment and Nuclear Disaster Minister Shinjiro Koizumi enters the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Sept. 11. TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Japan's new environmental minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, called Wednesday for permanently shutting down the nation's nuclear reactors to prevent a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, comments that came just a day after Koizumi's predecessor recommended dumping more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

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This picture taken on Jan. 31, 2018 from an observatory room shows storage tanks for contaminated water at the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP / Getty Images

The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have to dump huge amounts of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. The company no longer has room to store it, said Yoshiaki Harada, Japan's environment minister, today, as Japan Today reported.

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Medical personnel ride an inflatable boat over floodwaters to reach a hospital following heavy rains in Omachi, Saga prefecture on Aug. 29. JIJI PRESS / AFP / Getty Images

Floods and landslides triggered by record-setting rainfall in southern Japan have forced authorities to order more than 900,000 people to leave their homes and another one million were advised to move to safety on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

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Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.

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People walk in the street during a hot day in Tokyo's district of Ueno on August 7. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP / Getty Images

While the worst of this summer's heat seems to have passed in the U.S. and Europe, Japan is in the throes of a dangerous heat wave.

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A woman feeds deer in Nara, Japan. Drazen_ / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The global plastic crisis has invaded a sacred sanctuary in Japan. Nine deer in Nara Park that have died since March were revealed to have massive amounts of plastic bags and food wrappers in their digestive tract.

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An extended version of the Fuxing bullet train at the China National Railway Test Center on Oct. 15, 2018 in Beijing, China. VCG / VCG via Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

Is it just us?

Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.

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Blue fin tuna jumping to catch flying fishes. bbevren / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Bluefin tuna made the news this week when a 612-pound specimen of the fascinating but vulnerable fish sold for a record $3.1 million at a New Year's auction at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market Saturday. The purchaser was Japanese sushi chain owner and self-proclaimed "Tuna King" Kiyoshi Kimura.

"The tuna looks so tasty because it's fat and (looks) very fresh. It is a good tuna. But I think I did too much," Kimura said, as CNN reported.

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Aerial view of Florence, Nichols, Conway and Waccamaw, South Carolina, impacted by floodwaters on Sept. 21. South Carolina Air National Guard

By Sharon Kelly

2018 is set to rank as the fourth warmest year on record—and the fourth year in a row reflecting a full degree Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) temperature rise from the late 1800s, climate scientists say.

This was the year that introduced us to fire tornadoes, bomb cyclones and in Death Valley, a five-day streak of 125°F temperatures, part of the hottest month ever documented at a U.S. weather station.

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Tree 'crop circles' near Nichinan city in Japan's Miyazaki prefecture. Google Earth

Photos of two "crop circles" of trees in Japan's Miyazaki prefecture have emerged online and on social media, causing netizens to marvel at the eerie forest formation.

Turns out, these cedar circles—which you can see on Google Earth—are the result of a forestry experiment conducted about 45 years ago.

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An adult and sub-adult Minke whale dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel. Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

Despite a global ban on commercial whaling more than 30 years ago, Japan has caught about 200-1,200 whales every year since 1987—including pregnant and juvenile ones—under the exception of "scientific research." Opponents have fiercely criticized this research program as just a cover so the whales can be killed for human consumption.

Now, the national broadcaster NHK reports that the Japanese government wants to fully resume commercial whaling by pulling out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Commercial whaling was paused in 1986 by the IWC because some whales were hunted to near extinction.

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