TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's shipments of air conditioners in July hit a record high, an industry body said Wednesday, due to brisk demand as an unprecedented heat wave swept over the Japanese archipelago.
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The volume of shipments last month rose 10.9 percent from the previous year to 1,763,000 units, the highest level on a monthly basis since 1972 when comparable data became available, the Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association said.
The country logged its highest-ever temperature of 41.1 C in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo on July 23, prompting the Japan Meteorological Agency to call the heat wave "a natural disaster" and warn the public to take precautions to avoid heatstroke or heat exhaustion.
Government data released earlier this month showed the heat wave has sent more than 70,000 people, including about 140 who died, to hospitals across the country over the last three months.
The shipment value of air conditioners stood at 137.9 billion yen ($1.2 billion) in July, up 12.2 percent from the previous year and the largest for the month in 10 years, according to the association.
The total shipments of home appliances increased 7.2 percent to 281.1 billion yen in the reporting month, buoyed by growing demand for refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.