Also, potentially contributing to the high death toll is not just the number of landslides - the land ministry said there were landslides at 448 locations in 29 of Japan's 47 prefectures as a result of the torrential rain - but their contents.
"He is old and has a heart condition".
Police, Japan's Coast Guard, firefighters and 179 helicopters are involved in the rescue. In some cases only the foundation of houses remained as rescuers cut through debris with chain saws.
Some of the thousands of residents who had been evacuated, some rescued from their rooftops, began cleaning up after the rain stopped Monday. "We were hoping to find two people but still can't find one". Portable fans turned slowly here and there as children shrieked.
The government said 176 people had been confirmed dead after the record-setting rainfall last week caused severe flooding and landslides.
"After seeing that, I even feel more strongly about doing whatever it takes so that the people who were affected could live safely again as soon as possible", said Mr Abe, who had cancelled a trip to Europe and the Middle East to respond to the disaster.
Scores of patients‚ some still in their pajamas‚ and nurses were rescued from the isolated Mabi Memorial Hospital in boats rowed by members of Japan's Self Defence Forces.
"I hope the local governments will not hesitate in (providing) financial assistance and exerting utmost efforts in restoration work", Abe told reporters after his meeting with Okayama Gov. Ryuta Ibaragi.
Abe is up for re-election as party leader in September and has seen his support rates edge back up after taking a hit over a cronyism scandal earlier this year.
His government pledged an initial $4 billion towards recovery on Tuesday, and a later special budget if needed.
Kurashiki City, one of the hardest-hit regions in Okayama Prefecture, for example, did not receive its hazard map until 2016, and, compounding the lack of knowledge as to evacuation destinations, some experts have said that the orders to evacuate, in fact, came too late.
And authorities warned against the ongoing risk of landslides, with rain forecast in some areas on Thursday, as well as heatstroke in other places where temperatures approached 35 degrees celsius.
Rescuers were combing through mud-covered hillsides and along riverbanks Tuesday searching for dozens of people missing after heavy rains unleashed flooding and mudslides in southwestern Japan.
And despite the let-up in the rains, new flood warnings were still being issued on Wednesday.
Residents look at a flooded road in Hiroshima on July 7, 2018.
Some cities within Okayama prefecture saw flooding of almost 30 percent of the total area, while the number of partially or fully destroyed homes nationwide exceeds 10,000.
Local residents walk next to a damaged auto in a flooded area in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan, July 8, 2018.
Automakers including Mazda Motor Corp and Daihatsu Diesel Manufacturing Co suspended operations at several plants on Saturday due to a shortage of parts or unsafe conditions.