An "unprecedented" heat wave in Japan has killed at least 65 people in a week, government officials said Tuesday, with the weather agency now classifying record-breaking weather as a "natural disaster."
At least 65 people died of heat stroke during the week through Sunday, while 22,647 people were hospitalized, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said in a statement.
Both figures are "the worst ever for a week in the summer" since the agency reported deaths from heat stroke in July 2008, a spokesperson for AFP said.
The Fire and Disaster Agency announced Tuesday with a total of 80 people having died from the heat since the beginning of July 35,000 have been hospitalized
Among those killed was a six-year-old schoolboy who lost consciousness on the way back from an excursion.
"As a record heat wave flooded the country, urgent action is needed to protect the lives of schoolchildren," government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters Tuesday.
The government said it would provide funding to ensure that all schools are up to 1
Less than half of Japan's public schools are air-conditioned, in public kindergartens only slightly higher.
Suga said the government would also consider extending this summer's summer vacation as the heat wave subsides.
On Monday, the city of Kumagaya set a new national heat record in Saitama off Tokyo, with temperatures of 41.1 degrees Celsius
And for the first time, temperatures above 40 degrees were registered in the Tokyo metropolitan area, where the government promotes Uchimizu Tradition in which water is sprinkled on the ground as part of a summer heat-sensitization campaign.  According to the National Weather Agency, it was a bit cooler on Tuesday -36 degrees in Tokyo, but temperatures remained well above normal in much of the country and little relief is expected.
"We are seeing unprecedented heat in some areas," official Motoaki Takekawa official said late Monday.
The heatwave "is deadly, and we recognize it as a natural disaster," he told reporters.
The agency warned that much of the country will bake at temperatures of 35 degrees or higher by the beginning of August] Officials have urged people to use air conditioners, drink enough water and often rest.
Japan's summer is notoriously hot and humid, and hundreds of people die every year from a heat stroke, especially the elderly in the country's aging society.
The heat wave follows record rainfall devastating parts of western and central Japan with floods and landslides that killed over 220 people.