On Monday, Japan battled to escape a potential power crisis as temperatures rose across the country, with authorities warning of higher-than-expected demand after the rainy season finished in the capital, Tokyo, at the earliest since record-keeping began.
Surging power prices are making life difficult for Japanese customers less than two weeks before an election for the upper chamber of parliament, after higher fuel costs spurred on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A power outage could wreak havoc on the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is already under pressure for its management of rising consumer prices.
‘Electricity consumption has been remaining over yesterday’s expectation since this morning, amid unexpectedly severe temperatures,’ a Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry official said at a news briefing, adding that demand had outpaced predictions.
Tuesday was likely to be the same, according to a later statement.
Temperatures in downtown Tokyo were 35.1 C (95.2 F) around 4:00 p.m., but in Sano, somewhat to the north, they were 39.8 C. (103.6 F).
From 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. (0730 GMT to 0800 GMT) on Monday, reserve generating capacity could fall as low as 3.7 percent, close to the minimum of 3 percent required to ensure stable supply, according to Ministry officials. Power shortages and blackouts are possible if the rate falls below 3%.
He suggested shutting off lights that were not in use, reducing the usage of air conditioners, and avoiding heat stroke.
Tokyo residents said they were doing everything they could to comply, but some questioned the requests.
‘It’s not that I don’t understand what the government is saying,’ Kenichi Nagasaka, 61, said, ‘but they want us to save power while still using air conditioning, which seems contradictory.’
Weather officials said the annual rainy season had ended earlier than usual across much of Japan, including the Tokyo metropolitan area, since records began in 1951.