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Japan will struggle with power crunch after quake

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Then, what are you planning to do for people connected to life support equipments? Do you let them die?

Without electricity, they will die while all hospitals in Tokyo are already crowded with patients from other prefectures.

Any solutions? Are you still planning to open a baseball season in Japan?

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Tone down the light usage EVERYWHERE... as the past week has shown, Tokyo uses way too much electricity and we can manage with less. Start with those drug stores...

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There is not much food in Tokyo, there must be none in the disaster areas, as usual the government has let down the people.

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I am writing from Tokyo. There is no food shortage. The stores have everything that you need. Just don't listen to what others are saying. Or if you are in a remote place, and assuming things, then please refrain from scare-mongering. For anyone sincerely in need, I really can send you the grocery stuff that you need. The toilet tissue scarcity was an artificial one. Some older people just remembered their past experience and started creating a havoc. I even saw a man taking a bunch of serviettes from the McD's tissue dispenser and stuffed it into his bag. Mind you, he was having one of the most expensive burger set meal!!

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To reply to the first 3 posters above, as JKanda says, there are no food shortages in Tokyo. Earlier in the week panic buying meant it was hard to get milk, bread, rice, cup noodles and a few other things, but there was plenty of other food.

Light usage has been toned down everywhere- people are not stupid here, unnecessary lights were turned off as soon as the power cuts were announced, including neon advertising in Shinjuku and Shibuya, and lighting in pachinko parlours, drugstores and convenience stores all over the city.

As for hospitals, the one where I will be giving birth soon told me yesterday they have emergency generators. It is not crowded with patients from other prefectures.

As for the power cuts themselves, we have yet to have even one in the area I live in (west Tokyo- they keep announcing and then cancelling them), and in areas that have had them they haven't lasted more than 3 hours.

If you are not in Tokyo and don't really know what's going on, please stop spreading incorrect information about the situation here. Worry about the people up in Tohoku, who really are suffering.

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I agree with Apsara.

I have no had one blackout yet despite the warning that I would everyday. Each day it was cancelled due to "low energy demand/usage". The stores I went to had reduced electricity and our household is running with one or two lights on at night.

It would be nice if this leads to long term changes in power usage and energy conservation but I doubt it.

As for food. There was a shortage the first day in some places as people went on mass buying sprees. But by the second day everything was pretty much stocked up - except for batteries, flashlights and portable gas stoves. So, enough with the doom and gloom postings please. Life the last week could have been so much worse for Tokyo. It's up north where the true suffering is.

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Adding to Apsara.

The blackouts are done in 3-hour time-slots that are announced days ahead, so homes and businesses can schedule around, etc. As he/she also said most have been cancelled, areas that seem to be affected tend to be light and heavy-industrial areas.

Yeah, some shops here in western Tokyo are still low on some items but go to another shop and they often have stock if what you need. Ex.: you might not find rice at a super, but the local rice-shop tends to have stock(but alas at a higher price).

People bought lots of water but teas, juice, etc was pretty much left untouched.

Agree apsara and other posters, unless you are here and are directly affected pls stop telling us what we are experiencing.

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The Economist has an article entitled "Can Japan Endure?" Are you kidding? Japan's middle name is "endure".

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Shinjukuboy, The Economist is a magazine that represents everything that is wrong with the British elite. Of course they are going to come up with a ludicrous title like "Can Japan Endure?" I haven't read my issue yet, but I would propose a question for the Economist. Will Britain be able to endure the rolling blackouts they will face in 20 years time, when alternative energy has failed and the British government has neglected its nuclear and fossil fuel infrastructure for so long in the pollyanna pursuit of wind and solar?

Japan will endure because Japan believes in and works for Japan and her people. Britain will not endure, because they are not looking out for Britain as a nation or a people.

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Expect to see sales of superbright LED lighting grow exponentially now. I changed all my office lighting over to them three weeks ago, and all 6 rooms were lit well, with the same total power consumed as one old 60W light bulb. Of course now, the lights are mostly off to conserve even more power, but that is an example of what can be done.

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I actually found batteries at the 100yen shop. Not alkaline, "mangan", but hey, they'll work in my flashlight which I hope doesn't break because I don't have a spare and there are no flashlights to be had anywhere. There was some bread, but I didn't buy any. No milk or eggs, no wait, one supermarket had milk at 348 yen/liter, I didn't buy it.

Again, this is just a minor inconvenience compared to what the people in Tohoko are going through.

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Has anyone figured out how Tokyo is going to be able to maintain regular train service and offer power? So far no rolling black-outs in my area... my friend had two... TEPCO said outages until the end of next month, but I don't understand how they can fix the problem by then (This article suggests 6 months.) Has anyone heard anything on Japanese media about what's going on?

As for life in Tokyo... supermarket had no food for one week (Actually I'm in Saitama), then yesterday stocked back up. Couldn't get my paycheck (Mizuho bank having problems.) Supermarket not taking credit cards.

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Summer is going to be interesting... I seem to remember everyone saying it would be hotter than usual this year due to the winter we had - people are going to want to use aircons!

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Sarge: My LED bicycle light was a very useful torch replacement last week when the power was out. They are much brighter and longer lasting than traditional torches with bulbs.

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Me and son survived the last summer sans air-con(got one now but maybe used it 10 times since it was installed), should be fine with minimal usage this year.

But agree japanese LOVE their air-cons (summer to make it like winter and vice-versa).

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Agree, there most of our torches, etc are LED very bright and many run of button batteries that few are buying right now.

And, yeah, we also took the LED lights of our bicycles, they run 120hrs (continuos) on a set of 2 AAA batteries.

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It has been almost impossible to get milk, bread, rice and gasloine in my area...on the outskirts of Tokyo. It is interesting to read the stuff written byb those of you who live in the well-heeled areas of Tokyo, where most of us could not afford to live, talking about the land of plenty you live in. You do not represent all Tokyoites. There are plenty of people in my area who are struggling. While many of you in inner Tokyo areas have not had power outages, we are enduring 3-4 hour otages every day, except yesterday and today, when we have been given a reprieve.

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realist.

Not sure if you include Musashino-shi, etc as well-heeled. But we can get most stuff fairly easily. Some stuff like batteries are still dear, came back a bit earlier from super and they had bread, etc.

Granted the discount or cheap stores tend to be bare, but local rice-shops got stock, local bakeries, etc also put out daily.

Granted we haven't had a single power outage as yet, we been thanked for saving it.

Was in Kichijoji yesterday(lots of shops still closed and others on low power) but the place was buzzing and had a standard holiday mood/vibe.

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I'm in Ibaraki and yes we have had a difficult week, we have one little shop in our village and they have worked like devils to get the things we need! Just a few miles away people are in a far worse situation than us! We may have been cold and in the dark with no gas for the car but at least our house is still standing (just) Many poor souls have been left with nothing at all, we have no complaints!

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Realist, I live even further out than Zenny- well-heeled inner city Tokyo it is not. You live somewhere so remote you can't take a train anywhere to find milk or bread? Not one store in your area has any of those items at any time of day? That's very unlucky, but I don't think it's the norm here. In any case, wouldn't you say you are better off than people up north? My husband's relatives are in inland Miyagi, and they had no power at all until yesterday.

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I partially agree with realist. I live just north of Itabashi-ku in Saitama. It is pretty rough here with Seiyu and Daiei closing down for hours at a day (we have had regular power outages here) including most local businesses. We can still get things like bread and milk but you have to be quick. If anything, toilet paper and diapers are more scarce. Conbinis are in short supply but places like Kaldi still have lots of stuff. Most anything that isn't milk or break or toilet paper, diapers or batteries is in ample supply, though.

I live right on the border between Tokyo and Saitama and have been getting a double dose of blackouts or mixed up blackout schedules some days for whatever reason/screwup (I was supposed to have a blackout 1-4 or so one day this week and got it 7-10pm). Not usually during the daytime but the late afternoons to evenings have been pretty rough without power. My family isn't as bad off as those as up north though, not by a long shot.

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Advancing the clocks a couple of hours would reduce lighting demand during the early evening peak.... Installing converters to enable transfer of surplus to demand power from West to East Japan could help in the medium term...

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Think Solar power! Make it cheaper and we use less nuclear power plants.

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Japan needs to cut back on power use. I would start with the multitude of streetlights across this country. It would be nice to be able to see the stars sometimes, you know?

My advice for Japan is wind power. One way or another, the nukes should go.

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Just saying what my friend in Fussa city tells me. The blackouts have shut down a lot of the business and if he does not work does not get paid. Says there are lines for buying petrol.

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Knee-jerk reactions may be norm right now, but in fact we cannot due without nuclear power and that reality will sink in soon enough.

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It is stupid to mess with the trains because of power cuts but allow pachinko parlors to stay open.

I went to a supermarket last Thursday and they were still playing music, and had a tape recorder playing saying that they have changed their opening hours to save energy. They must think that a piece of A3 paper and a marker cost more electricity then playing a tape on repeat from 10 to 18 every day.

Renho doesn't have a clue about saving energy.

Close pachinko parlors and game centres. Make shops turn off signs and silly music etc. Get the train system working like it used to.

If all the mouthbreathers would stop panicking and only buy what they need, supermarkets wouldn't be having stock problems.

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The permanent loss of those four reactors and the hardship it will cause people in region may lay the groundwork for TEPCO to install a newer, safer, more efficient generation of nuclear reactors at the site. Admittedly, I am looking for a silver lining in this cloud.

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Who is in charge of energy saving plan in Japanese gov?

I've found many useful ideas here on JT.

Someone needs to list all up, and send it to the govt or media.

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The economic damage caused by the botched rolling blackouts, and the scarcity of gas/diesel could be in the billions.

Can't ask Pachinko parlors to close since this is a very specific type of business that cannot be singled out. They could be asked to turn of the neon signs outside but everyone has to make a living one way or the other.

The 50/60Hz difference in Japan needs to be sorted out NOW. Tokyo is absorbing the full grunt of the power shortage, and like earlier posters said, if all Japan was at 60Hz then we could receive power from Kansai and other areas.

The fuel shortages are killers. The US has a 10% reserve, why does Japan not use their reserves at this crucial time? Some gas stations are charging Y2000 for 10 liters of gas, effectively 200Y/liter. This is illegal and should be prosecuted. In my area lines of cars are sometimes up to 500 cars. People in Kanto/Tohoku need plenty of gas just in case the nuclear reactor finally blows up and everyone has to drive south with their belongings/pets/etc...

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Im dreaming that the power cuts last to summer, and it teaches everybody about not relying on air-conditioners and temperature gauged lifestyles,(grinning at that sweat) counrty lifestyle increases in quality and value, screw the trains and any necessity of riding them, spread businesses further out, not so much conjestion and all you need-with the added benefit of deliveries-in your local rural heaven....solar or wind would be more feasible because people wouldnt be living on top of each other, nor business, and fighting for 30 square foot of crappy land hid by your neighbouring skyscraper

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The 50/60Hz issue began back in 1895/1896 and you'd think if they didn't do anything after WWII when they were rebuilding that it will never change. Too much has been invested now so the odds of switching the whole country over to 50Hz or 60Hz is just not there.

For those that think they need plenty of gas just in case the reator 'finally' blows need to get a grip on reality. You think getting out of town on golden week is hard?! Ever watch some stupid movie where the end of the world is coming and everyone tries to drive out of Dodge? Yeah, you're really going to go far in your car when everyone else is trying the same thing.

Solar Power works great during the day but what about at night? How much space do you think it would take to generate 1380MW? BTW, 1380MW is the capacity of the newer nuclear reactors. How many wind generators would you need to generate 1380MW? Good luck finding an area in Japan that will allow that eye sore to be built near them and then it only works when the wind is there.

How about geo-thermal power after all Japan is sitting on a huge boiling tea kettle? Boiling water is really steam and steam is what these nuclear reactors are making to spin the turbines so why not tap what the earth is making anyways?

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But if Japan wants to use nuclear reactors why not build Thorium reactors which can NEVER have the problems that Japan is facing right now.

It would be really nice if JT could figure out a way to allow useful links to be allowed as it helps to inform others of what's out there.

H T T P(forward slash)(forward slash)blogs(period)howstuffworks(period)com/2009/12/01/how-a-liquid-fluoride-thorium-reactor-lftr-works/

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in fact Im greedy, I like a little bit of all the energies-they all have their plusses and minuses-I just want the real-estates/building industries/government zoning and the consumers to think beyond their tiny boxed land or compartment box spaces-look at the tsunami towns, i mean how crowded in on each other do they have to choose? learn to drive! the hills surrounding the towns stand out as eye-sores, in the depths of despair that is occurring.

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KnowBetter at 06:47 AM JST - 21st March. How about geo-thermal power after all Japan is sitting on a huge boiling tea kettle? Boiling water is really steam and steam is what these nuclear reactors are making to spin the turbines so why not tap what the earth is making anyways?

Japan has to increase spending on reseach and development in understanding the ocean waves for the future energy supplies. There are several methods of getting energy from the ocean waves. The waves are a renewable source of energy that doesn't cause pollution. In a future, the energy from waves alone could supply most of the world's electricity needs. The problem is how to harness wave energy efficiently and with minimal environmental, social, and economic impacts.

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Daylight savings will not save energy in Japan. Have you ever lived in Japan let alone ever been there for more than a week? If so you'd see that while it may appear that Japanese people sleep, Japan Inc does not. Try seeing what difference daylight savings will make when the overnight low temperature doesn't go below 29c. Yes, summer is coming and I hope this mess is well on the way to being dealt with. I'd rather be huddled under blankets bitching about cold than not be able to get naked enough because the rolling blackouts have us sweating it out.

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Anyone know why parts of Arakawaku are/were being exempt from the general power cut exemption of Tokyo Central Wards ? I'm relieved that the hotel I stay at several times a year is in Minami-senju, which was an area left unaffected (how can you adjust hours for an operation like that ?) but still concerned about this summer. :P

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All the nuclear plants that are shut down will remain shut down for at least 5 or 6 years. I don't see where Japan will get power from that will make this situation better over the next few years. Where can we magically get more electricity? Will they switch voltage systems to one system for the whole country so electricity can come from the south?

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Where can we magically get more electricity?

I don't imagine magic will play much part. My guess is that the government subsidies on domestic solar power units will be boosted. Could even be that building regulations will decree that a solar power unit is as necessary for new houses/office buildings as quakeproof construction.

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So farming will be done later in the day because of 'daylight savings'? You still need lights inthe moring when you're getting ready for work, no? If the trains and metro start running at just before 5am then you will simply shift the darkness to the morning. VERY stupid logic in a country that for the most part, where power conservation counts, never sleeps.

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Having lived in the Kansai and Kanto areas I would agree that not everyone 'works' however they still use electricity and when the sun rises makes no difference on one hour forward when the 'heavy users' are already using. BTW, old people get up earlier than roosters so I don't buy it that they will save energy by having daylight savings.

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the old people are probably used to 'disaster' having probably gone through the 'disaster' in World War 2. They know how to survive, probably better than the younger generations who probably have never lived without electricity. Learn from your grandma/grandpa.

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I don't think anyone ever gets used to 'disaster' and I hope that people can learn a lot from this disaster so that it saves lives the next time around because it will happen again and again.

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knowbetter, sengaku38 It seems I'm not the only person who was skeptical when we were told that the "rolling blackouts" will cease by summer... I think we're headed for deep doo doo. Have any Japanese media offered any explanations how they're planning to resolve the problem by then?

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Coca-Cola claim to be doing their bit by turning the lights off on their vending machines. This is nothing but tokenism and will save a fraction of a percent of the electricity these power hogs consume. In fact turning off all vending machines outside the disaster area would go a long way to providing a solution.

It takes at least one nuclear power station to power these machines.

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Strange, considering that it was announced that about 1mil vending machines will go dark a few days ago to save around 25% of their power consumption.

Sounds like Coca-Cola missed that one, but every bit helps.

BTW, there was a discussion about it here.

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If Japan Inc turned off all the billboards, toned down the lighting in combini's (i.e. Lawson, Family Mart, Circle K, 7/11, etc.), had dept stores and office building watch the way they heat and cool in the TEPCO service area that in its self would make up for the loss in power generation. TEPCO claimed at the beginging that they were about 10,000MW short per day and that would be around 714,285 homes using the amount of power that I use in my 3LDK mansion per day based on my TEPCO bill.

If a vending machine uses four 32w light tubes then in 24 hours it uses 3.072KWh a day. There are seven vending machines within 20 metres of my building's front door so that would save 21.504KWh a day. Now imagine just how many vending machines are around you. You get the picture now.

The little blinky LED lights that most vending machine have use almost nothing so they would let you know that the vending machine is still on and running but shut off the main back lighting which is nothing more than a billboard.

Interesting fact is that they are/were suppose to start building reactors No 7 and No 8 at Dai-ichi starting 2013 and 2014. I wonder what the plans are like now that they have 3 reactors dead for sure although No 1 was only around 460MW and No 2 & 3 were 784MW and the new ones where going to be 1380MW each.

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