Japanese people turn down heating and lights to avoid power cuts after earthquake

As snow fell in Tokyo and the temperature fell to 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit), Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said demand soared and up to 3 million households could losing power after 8pm (1100 GMT) if usage rates did not come. down.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said in the evening that the country was likely to avoid power cuts.

Commerce Minister Koichi Hagiuda warned earlier in the day: “At this rate, we are getting closer to a state where we will have to carry out power cuts similar to those that took place after the earthquake.”

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake that struck on Wednesday last week off the northeast coast – the same area devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 – temporarily knocked out power to around 2 million homes, including hundreds of thousands in Tokyo.

The earthquake struck six thermal power plants, knocking them out of service in areas served by Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power Co, and the damage could leave some of them idle for weeks or even months, Hagiuda said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has previously called on residents of eastern Japan affected by the electricity crisis to do their part.

“We seek your cooperation (…) for example by lowering your thermostats to around 20 degrees Celsius and turning off all unnecessary lights,” he told a press conference.

Many users answered the call.

National broadcaster NHK dimmed its studio lights while electronics retailer Bic Camera turned off around half of the TVs in dozens of its stores.

The 634-meter Tokyo Skytree tower turned off its lights all day for the first time, and Tokyo Tower operators downtown lit only its lower half.

“RESTARTING NUCLEAR ENERGY”

Retail giant Seven & I Holdings said 8,500 7-Eleven stores were setting their thermostats at 20C – one degree cooler than usual – while its Ito-Yokado supermarkets dimmed their lights by 10% .

Nissan Motor said it used an in-house generator for 13 hours at its plant north of the capital.

Many individual consumers also did their part.

“I use the heating a lot, so I will try to do my part to save energy,” said Shuntaro Ishinabe, 22, a student.

Government spokesman Matsuno said the demand for power conservation was unlikely to continue beyond Tuesday, given the expected rise in temperatures and the addition of more solar power generation as the weather improved.

Japan has faced a tough energy market since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami crippled Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and leading to the suspension of operations at most reactors. Japanese nuclear.

With energy prices soaring due to tight global supply and the Ukraine crisis, Japan’s biggest business lobby, Keidanren, has called for a rapid restart of nuclear power plants.

“A sudden power shutdown causes a lot of trouble, and I think (the general public) has really felt the importance of energy security given recent events,” Keidanren Chairman Masakazu Tokura said.

“Given the general trend towards becoming carbon neutral and reducing greenhouse gases, I think there will be more difficulties unless we quickly restart nuclear plants.”

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi and Kantaro Komiya; Additional reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu, Sakura Murakami, Irene Wang, Satoshi Sugiyama, David Dolan, Sam Nussey; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel and Alex Richardson)

By Yuka Obayashi and Kantaro Komiya

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