For almost a week, Japan has begun to deal with an electricity shortage that has long been in the making; combined with record-breaking temperatures, the situation currently affecting Japan is a situation that may become all too common.

Residents in Japan, mostly those in the Tokyo metropolitan area, have been asked by the Japanese Ministry of economy, trade, and industry to conserve as much power as possible; specifically, through the times of 3pm – 6pm — although in recent days this has been extended to 8pm. 

This comes on the back of record temperatures arriving in the past week where areas such as Isesaki in Gunma prefecture reached 40.2 celsius. The excess temperatures means there’s been a huge surge in the use of air-conditioning, being a major contributing factor to the energy shortage. For the past week temperatures have consistently been above 30 celsius in many parts of the country. 

Along with turning out lights, the Japanese government has asked residents to ‘use air-conditioning appropriately’. Japanese convenience stores too — mostly in Tokyo — have responded by turning its lighting down to around 60% of normal capacity, as well as other businesses taking similar action. 

Contributing factors

The current electricity crisis in Japan began with the 2011 earthquake and subsequent Tsunami, resulting in devastation across north-eastern Japan. The Fukushima nuclear power station was badly damaged and was consequently shut-down. 

Along with nuclear power being brought into question, Japan has slowly begun shutting down coal power plants to help with the global climate crisis and to reduce its emissions. Finally, the war in Ukraine and the weaning off of Russian fuel has exasperated the situation further leading to an overall power shortage from numerous sources. 

It’s recommended that power reserves should never fall below 3%, however current Japan is becoming dangerously close to this figure. Reports suggest that it has been down to around 4 or 5% and perhaps as low as 3.7% 

The ongoing heatwave has played a contributing factor to the current crisis, however, with the world becoming increasingly warmer each year, many are saying that this could become a regular occurrence and is certainly promoting the discussion around renewable energy sources becoming increasingly necessary.