Tokyo residents must save energy as Japan suffers heatwave

The Japanese government is warning of possible power shortages in the Tokyo area, asking people to conserve energy as the country experiences an unusually intense heat wave.

After the end of the rainy season in Tokyo at the earliest since records began, the Japanese archipelago experienced record temperatures in June in some areas.

The Ministry of Economy and Industry has urged residents in the area served by the Tokyo Electric Power Company to save electricity in the afternoon, especially when demand peaks at 4-5 p.m. (local time) .

Director of electricity supply policy at the ministry Kaname Ogawa said the demand for electricity was higher than expected.

Japan is restarting aging gas-fired power plants to avoid shortages.(PA: Hiro Komae)

“We are hit with unseasonably hot weather,” Mr Ogawa said.

Authorities have advised turning off unused lights, limiting the use of air conditioners and guarding against the risk of heat stroke.

In Isezaki, north of Tokyo, the temperature rose to 40.2 degrees on Saturday, the highest on record in June.

The temperature in downtown Tokyo reached nearly 35C on Monday.

Weather officials announced the earliest end to the annual summer rainy season since the Japan Meteorological Agency began keeping records in 1951.

The rains usually dampen the summer heat, often until July.

TEPCO was expecting contributions from the Tohoku Electric Power Company, which serves Japan’s northern prefectures, to help ease the crisis.

Tokyo residents said they were doing their best to comply, but some questioned the demands.

A cyclist wipes sweat from his face as he takes a break in a park
Japan is experiencing an unusually intense heat wave.(PA: Hiro Komae)

“It’s not that I don’t understand what the government is saying, but they want us to save electricity and always use air conditioning, which seems contradictory,” Kenichi Nagasaka, 61, said.

Shutdown of nuclear power, withdrawal of coal-fired power plants adds to crisis

More than 250 people were taken to hospitals in Tokyo over the weekend for treatment for heatstroke, according to the Mainichi newspaper.

The heat is believed to have killed two people over the weekend, one of a man in his 40s who collapsed outside, local media reported.

Electricity supply is relatively tight after Japan idled most of its nuclear reactors following the 2011 meltdowns in Fukushima.

A woman wears a handkerchief on her head during a heat wave
The temperature in downtown Tokyo has risen to nearly 35°C.(Reuters: Kim Kyung Hoon)

It has also shut down old coal-fired power plants to deliver on its promises to cut carbon emissions.

Japan also faces a potential shortage of fossil fuel imports amid sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Energy providers and the government have taken steps to avoid a power shortage during the peak summer demand period.

They asked families and businesses to conserve energy between July 1 and September 30, while restarting aging gas-fired power plants and changing maintenance plans for nuclear reactors.

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