Japan is battening down the hatches as it prepares for the full onslaught of one of the most powerful typhoons in the world this year – Super Typhoon Haishen – with winds approaching 300 kph expected in some areas.

Much of the south west of the archipelago is expected to take a direct hit from the typhoon from early Sunday morning through to lunchtime Monday according to the latest forecasts from the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

Transportation networks across the southernmost main island of Kyushu are already operating on limited schedules and local authorities are reportedly preparing to reduce water levels in some of the region’s dams.

Okinawa will take the first hit in the Japanese archipelago after the typhoon veered north overnight away from Taiwan to the southwest of Kyushu.

Search and rescue operations for the remaining 40 crew believed lost in the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1, last heard from on Wednesday west of southern Kyushu, have now been suspended due to high winds and dangerous sea conditions.

The Prefectural governor of Kagoshima in the south of Kyushu, Koichi Shiota, has already asked for help from Japan’s Self Defence Forces (SDF) with the troops evacuating the residents of a small island in the prefecture to safety in the city of Kagoshima.

Across Kyushu a total of 22,000 SDF members are expected to be deployed ahead of the arrival of Haishen in readiness for rescue operations if needed.

Elsewhere in western Japan, transportation networks are starting to wind down with schools also planning for a day off on Monday.

The nation’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has also urged caution, asking the public to “evacuate promptly based on information provided by local governments, and take actions to protect lives” media reports from Japan say.

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