IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


17th April, 2024 Geography


Copyright infringement not intended

Picture Courtesy: https://www.studyjapan.jp/en/topics/culture/hokkaido.html

Context: The warming trend in Hokkaido, highlighted by Sapporo reaching 26°C on April 15, 2024, reflects substantial environmental shifts affecting Japan's northernmost region, once revered as the 'Garden of the Gods'.

Key Highlights

  • The warming trends observed in Hokkaido, Japan's northern island and renowned "Garden of the Gods," reflect broader climate change impacts on the region.
  • Sapporo recently experienced an unprecedented temperature of 26 degrees Celsius on April 15, 2024, marking the earliest occurrence of such warmth in a given year since record-keeping began in 1877.

Hokkaido's Climate and Recent Trends

  • Hokkaido's climate is traditionally sub-arctic characterised by an average annual temperature of 8°C and significant snowfall.
  • The mean temperature in August, historically the hottest month, has been around 21°C; however, these statistics are likely to shift due to climate change.
  • Recent warming trends, as highlighted by the record-setting temperature in Sapporo, validate earlier warnings from organisations like the World-Wide Fund for Nature-Japan (WWF-Japan).

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

●The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is a prominent international non-governmental organisation (NGO) established in 1961 to preserve wilderness and reduce human impact on the environment.

It operates globally under the name World Wildlife Fund in Canada and the United States. WWF is recognized as the largest conservation organisation worldwide, boasting over five million supporters across more than 100 countries and engaging in approximately 3,000 conservation and environmental projects.

●WWF's mission is to "stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature." This goal is pursued through a range of initiatives aimed at conservation, sustainability, and ecological balance.

Impacts on Hokkaido's Wilderness and Indigenous Communities

  • Hokkaido has long been regarded as Japan's last wild frontier, known as the 'Garden of the Gods' by the Ainu, the island's indigenous people.
  • Climate change is altering Hokkaido's ecosystems, potentially disrupting wildlife and biodiversity.
  • The reduction in sea ice thickness in the Sea of Okhotsk, a vital habitat for marine life, has implications for fish migration patterns and coastal ecosystems.

Broader Implications for Japan's Archipelago

  • The warming trends in Hokkaido reflect broader climate change impacts across the Japanese archipelago.
  • Rising temperatures, coupled with sea level rise and extreme weather events, pose significant challenges for Japan's environment, economy, and society.
  • Urgent action is needed to mitigate the effects of climate change and support vulnerable communities like the Ainu in adapting to changing environmental conditions.


  • The warming of Hokkaido underscores the far-reaching consequences of climate change in Japan, affecting not only the island's ecosystems and biodiversity but also indigenous communities like the Ainu. Addressing these challenges requires collaborative efforts to promote sustainability, resilience, and social justice in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

Must Read Articles:

Sea of Japan

Earth’s Soaring Temperature

Heat Waves


Down to Earth


Q. Climate change disproportionately impacts developing countries and vulnerable populations. How to create a framework for climate action that addresses these equity issues and ensures a just transition to a low-carbon future for all?