People in Japan are sweating it out. The country is enduring unseasonably hot temperatures. Meanwhile, the government is warning of possible power shortages—and urging greater efforts to conserve energy.
Japan’s annual summer rainy season usually tempers the heat, often well into July. But weather officials recently announced the earliest end to the rains since the Japan Meteorological Agency began keeping records in 1951.
The sweltering temperatures would be considered mild compared to some South and Southeast Asian countries. But in Japan, they add to worries over summer power shortages.
In mid-March, some coal-fired plants serving the region went offline for repairs following a strong earthquake. The government warned of potential problems in late March, though no actual outages occurred.
Japan’s economy and industry ministry is urging people living in the region serviced by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to conserve power in the afternoons, especially during peak demand time from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. TEPCO is expecting contributions from the Tohoku Electric Power Co., which serves Japan’s northern prefectures, to help ease the crunch.
Kaname Ogawa, director of electricity supply policy at the ministry, says Monday’s electricity demand today has been bigger than expected because the temperature exceeded Sunday’s forecast. He issued a similar warning for tomorrow.
“We are struck by unusual heat for the season,” Ogawa says. “Please cooperate and save as much power as possible.”
Ogawa, however, says people should use air conditioning appropriately and take precautions against heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a big concern since many older Japanese tend to avoid using air-conditioning, partly out of habit and partly to avoid running up big electricity bills. Older Japanese homes also often lack insulation and can become stifling hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.
Japan has seen record high temperatures for June in some areas. In Isezaki, north of Tokyo, the temperature rose to 104.4° Fahrenheit on Saturday, the highest ever for June. Temperature in downtown Tokyo rose to nearly 95°F Monday, higher than Sunday’s forecast of 93°F. And with humidity hovering at about 44%, temperatures felt even warmer.
With hot air coming from a powerful high atmospheric pressure system stalled over the Pacific Ocean, high temperatures are expected through early July, the meteorological agency says.
More than 250 people went to hospitals in Tokyo over the weekend for treatment of heat stroke, according to the Mainichi newspaper.
Japan’s power supply is fairly tight after the nation halted most of its nuclear reactors following 2011 meltdowns in Fukushima, Japan. (See Releasing Water from Nuke Disaster.)
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government has been pushing to restart more nuclear reactors that have passed upgraded safety standards.
The country has been closing old coal plants to meet goals for reducing carbon emissions. But Japan also faces a potential shortage of fossil fuel imports amid sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Lord by wisdom founded the Earth; by understanding He established the heavens; by His knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew. — Proverbs 3:19-20
(A woman uses a portable electric fan while strolling with friends in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, June 27, 2022. AP/Hiro Komae)