The highest temperatures in at least 147 years scorched much of eastern Japan for a week from Friday, with the government asking citizens to reduce electricity consumption as much as possible, while continuing to do operate the air conditioners to stay safe.
The region around Tokyo was set for its seventh straight day of temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and also faced a hot weekend, with the western city of Nagoya expected to hit a sizzling 40C Slightly cooler temperatures and possibly rain could bring relief on Monday.
Authorities issued no warning of a possible power crisis for the first time this week, although power supplies will remain constrained amid rising energy prices, adding fervor to calls in government to restart more nuclear reactors that have been shut down since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011.
The government has warned that unsafe conditions will persist, again encouraging people to relax the use of masks outdoors, a message slow to take hold 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, has come dangerously close to usage levels that could have threatened blackouts on Thursday. However, the situation has calmed down, as the measures taken by the authorities to deal with the summer peak in demand came into force at the beginning of July.
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 temperatures in June this year were unprecedented, catching authorities off guard.
“Due to record high temperatures, we had (electricity) demand nearly equal to peak summer levels in June – before we could muster sufficient supply resources. are tense,” an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. Industry (METI) told reporters on Thursday.
Some manufacturers cut working hours and some companies asked workers to turn off unused appliances earlier this week. A few commuter train stations also closed 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.
The heat came with an early end to the rainy season, which in parts of Japan lasted barely two weeks, leaving dams partially empty and some areas calling for water conservation.
A tropical storm could hit Japan next week, finally bringing rain and slightly cooler temperatures.
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