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People look at a flooded road and swollen river due to heavy rain in Miyoshi, Hiroshima prefecture, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo July 5, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS(reuters_tickers)
TOKYO (Reuters) - Heavy rain and overflowing rivers in southern Japan have forced the evacuation of almost 400,000 people, public broadcaster NHK said on Wednesday.
"Rivers are bursting their banks and there are landslides," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
"This could lead to large-scale damage. The prime minister has ordered us to stay on top of the situation."
In Fukuoka Prefecture, about 375,000 people were ordered to evacuate as swollen rivers threatened to inundate homes.
In neighbouring Oita Prefecture, more than 21,000 people have been ordered to leave heir homes, according to NHK.
People forced from their homes were staying in evacuation centres in schools and government buildings on high ground.
Japan's Self Defense Force (SDF) had responded to requests from both prefectures for assistance with the flooding, according to a SDF spokesman.
The heavy rain over the south was forecast to continue into Thursday.
The rain in Japan comes on the heels of a storm system that caused severe flooding across southern China that killed 56 people and cost almost $4 billion in damage.
(Reporting by Stanley White and Nobuhiro Kubo; Editing by Robert Birsel)