TOKYO — The central government has asked civil servants to wear T-shirts and Hawaiian shirts instead of suits and ties.
A sign at one Tokyo pub sums up the mood of the times: “Save Electricity — Drink More Beer.”
Despite enduring some of the hottest weather on record, Japanese are cutting their consumption of electricity with patriotic zeal. “Setsuden” — saving electricity — has become the buzzword of the summer.
In June, demand for electricity was down 5 percent nationwide, compared to last year. What’s more, the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s service area that includes Tokyo saw a 10 percent drop in demand and northeastern Japan achieved a 13 percent drop, according to an association of power companies.
Meanwhile, Japan’s weather office said temperatures in late June were more than 7 Fahrenheit degrees above average, the highest recorded since at least 1961.
At the government’s urging, Japanese businesses and residents have been working together to reduce energy consumption in the wake of March’s tsunami, which hobbled the nuclear power plant at Fukushima.
The tidal wave not only rendered Fukushima’s reactors inoperable but also prompted officials to shut down many of country’s other reactors over safety concerns. Only 19 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors currently are online, drastically reducing the country’s ability to produce electricity.
The central government has ordered ordered major corporations in the Tokyo area to reduce power consumption by 15 percent or else face fines of up to $12,000 and has asked households to pitch in as well.
The government of Yamagata, a northern province, said on its official website that the region cut its electric consumption by 19 percent on July 7 after the central government had asked businesses and families to stay in one room, close curtains to block sunlight, and either switch off their air conditioners or raise the temperature settings on their thermostats during the peak period between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
To wean themselves off energy-hogging air conditioners, Japanese imported a record 1.24 million electrical fans in May, a 70 percent jump over last year, according to the national customs office.
But some Japanese have been overzealous about turning off air conditioners.
From June 1 to July 10, at least 26 people died of heatstroke, compared with six during the same period last year, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The number of heatstroke victims taken to hospitals by ambulance tripled, to 12,973, and about half were older than 65.
Those numbers are staggering, considering that last summer’s heat broke records and that 1,718 people died of various reasons related to the extreme heat. The Health Ministry said about 80 percent of victims were over 65 and about half were discovered dead in their homes.
This summer, the metro Toyko government plans to send social workers to check on many senior citizens in their homes.View Entire Story
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A collection of reader guest articles, thoughts and opinions by Communities writers and breaking news and information.
Reflections on raising families in a holistic way -- with a focus on nutrition and alternative health.
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Reviews, insights and commentary from an eclectic observer.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall