Above is the shop window of a darkened accessory store in Shibuya explaining the lack of lights inside with a sign that reads “Saving Energy”.
Many shops are having to put such signs on the doors advertising the fact that they are open as many of the inside and outside lights have been switched off to save electricity making them look very empty and very closed.
The rolling powercuts are predicted to last through April and may even be extended further due to the shortfalls experienced on the power generation facilities that were damaged in the tsunami and earthquake of March 11th. Despite the energy saving measures already taken there is predicted to be a serious lack of electricity this summer when the heat arrives and people crank up their air-conditioning to cope.
Drastic measures to save power may have to be undertaken. Even the contentious subject of introducing daylight saving time this summer to avoid all that useful sunlight being wasted at 4am has been floated; along with reducing the working hours and even switching off the vending machines where unnecessary. Which is pretty much everywhere if you ask me.
One thing is for sure these power cuts will not aid Japan’s already slow and faltering economic recovery, especially as people here, who are worried and constantly misinformed over the problems around the Fukushima nuclear disaster, are, at last, finding their protest voices and are probably going to demand safer more accountable means of electricity production in any future Japan.
Japan is already one of the most efficient users of electricity but is also the second largest consumer of the stuff in the world (after the US) and it looks like it will be difficult to adjust to more renewable sources, or reduce needs significantly, without spending a lot of money the country doesn’t have or causing problems for the people and industries who find they cannot live without traditionally produced power however good their fear induced intentions or strongly twisted their arm is to do otherwise.
Difficult times ahead.