The Japanese islands extend through approximately 17° of latitude, and Japan’s climatic conditions vary widely. Average mean temperatures range from about 5° C (about 41° F) in Nemuro (Hokkaido) to about 16° C (about 61° F) on Okinawa. Short summers and severe long winters characterize Hokkaido and the N part of Honshu. The severity of the winters is caused in great part by the NW winds blowing from Siberia and the cold Okhotsk (or Oyashio) Current, which flows S into the Sea of Japan. To the S and E of this region the winters are considerably moderated by the influence of the warm KUROSHIO (or Japan) Current. In Shikoku, Kyushu, and S Honshu the summers are hot and humid, almost subtropical, and the winters are mild with comparatively little snow. Japan lies in the path of the SE monsoons, which add considerably to the oppressive humidity of the summers. Yearly precipitation ranges from about 1015 mm (about 40 in) on Hokkaido to 3810 mm (150 in) in the mountains of central Honshu. From June to October tropical cyclones, also called typhoons, occur; they can cause great damage, especially to shipping.

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