Families told to huddle around one TV in Japan bid to save power

In Tokyo, officials previously urged residents to watch an hour less TV a day. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan's government is ratcheting up calls for citizens to do anything they can to conserve electricity as the country faces a power supply crunch this summer.

"Families should gather around a single television, and not use air conditioners in other rooms," Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda said in Tokyo on Friday (May 27). "Families should do what they can to save electricity."

The government's appeal comes after a power crunch in March nearly brought blackouts to Japan's capital, and as tight electricity supplies are expected through the summer and next winter.

With countries globally grappling with surging electricity prices as the war in Ukraine strains fossil fuel supply chains, authorities are examining almost every possibility to reduce power demand.

In Tokyo, officials previously urged residents to watch an hour less TV a day, switch off the keep-warm mode on rice cookers and refrain from using heater functions on toilet seats until winter.

Northern and eastern parts of Japan have a 50 per cent chance of seeing hotter-than-normal temperatures from June to August, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Electricity reserve rates - which measure available spare capacity - in the Tokyo, Tohoku and Chubu areas could fall to 3.1 per cent in July, just barely above the government's bare minimum level, according to a government report on Friday.

The power crunch is slated to get worse this winter when colder weather hits.

Japan will assemble related Cabinet ministers next week to discuss power crunches as some regions face the tightest energy supply in a decade this winter, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday, without saying where it obtained the information.

The government is expected to draw up steps including restarting idled thermal power plants, NHK said.

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