Japanese urge to save electricity as eastern country sizzles

A Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office worker works inside the office with lights partially turned off during the day to take energy-saving measures as the Japanese government issues a warning about a possible power outage due to the heat wave in Tokyo, Japan, June 30, 2022. – Reuters

TOKYO: The highest temperatures of the season since records began have scorched much of eastern Japan for a week, prompting the government to ask citizens to reduce electricity consumption as much as possible , while running the air conditioners to stay safe.

The region around Tokyo hit its seventh straight day of temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday and experienced a hot weekend. Slightly cooler temperatures and possibly rain could bring relief on Monday.

For the first time this week, authorities gave no warning on Friday of a possible power shortage, although energy supplies will remain tight and prices high, adding fervor to calls within government to restart more nuclear reactors that have been taken out of service since the Fukushima disaster of March 2011.

The city of Isesaki reached 40.3C (104.5F), the highest in Japan so far this year, and several other cities just north of the capital hit 40.1 and 40C vs. Downtown Tokyo reached 37°C (98.6°F).

Japan experiences similar temperatures frequently, but not so early in the year. June’s heat was the worst since record keeping began 147 years ago.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office workers work inside the office with lights partially turned off during the day to take energy-saving measures as the Japanese government issues a warning of a possible electricity crisis due at the heat wave in Tokyo, Japan, on June 30, 2022. - Reuters
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office workers work inside the office with lights partially turned off during the day to take energy-saving measures as the Japanese government issues a warning of a possible electricity crisis due at the heat wave in Tokyo, Japan, on June 30, 2022. – Reuters

The government said unsafe conditions would persist and again encouraged people to relax the use of masks outdoors, a message that is slow to take root in Japan, where mask-wearing was popular even before the pandemic. .

“Since this increases the risk of heat stroke, please remove your masks outside if you are away from others and not talking,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said during a briefing. press conference.

Greater Tokyo’s power grid, home to 37 million people, approached usage levels that could have threatened blackouts on Thursday. The situation eased with the entry into force, at the beginning of July, of the measures taken by the authorities to deal with the summer peak in demand.

Japan frequently experiences scorching summer temperatures. Last year, several events at the Tokyo Olympics in late July had to be postponed due to the heat. But the unprecedented temperatures of this month of June took the authorities by surprise.

“Due to record high temperatures, we had (power) demand almost equal to summer peak levels in June – before we could muster sufficient supply resources. tense,” said an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Industry (METI) told reporters on Thursday.

Some manufacturers cut working hours and some companies asked workers to turn off unused appliances earlier this week.

Some commuter train stations also stopped escalators and an amusement park in Yokohama, a city near Tokyo, turned off the lights of its Ferris wheel and cable car at night, the Nikkei Shimbun reported.

A man wipes sweat with a towel in a park under pressure from Tokyo's hottest June streak since 1875 in Tokyo, Japan, June 30, 2022. - Reuters
A man wipes sweat with a towel in a park under pressure from Tokyo’s hottest June streak since 1875 in Tokyo, Japan, June 30, 2022. – Reuters

Offices have turned off the lights and even public broadcaster NHK has dimmed the lights in its broadcast studios during the afternoon when demand peaks.

The heat came with an early end to the rainy season, which in parts of Japan lasted barely two weeks, leaving dams depleted and some areas calling for water conservation.

A tropical storm could hit Japan next week, bringing rain and slightly cooler temperatures.

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