A police officer controls traffic during a blackout in Sapporo last Thursday night after an earthquake rocked the region. Photo: AP
national

Death toll from Hokkaido quake hits 44; gov't sees no rolling blackouts despite power shortage

10 Comments
By Kaori Kaneko and Osamu Tsukimori

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in northern Japan last week rose to 44, with 660 injured, the government said on Monday, as electricity supply remained short and top automaker Toyota suspended work at most of its assembly plants.

The pre-dawn, 6.7-magnitude quake on Thursday temporarily paralysed the island of Hokkaido, cutting off access by air and train and knocking out power.

About 2,500 people remain in evacuation centres, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, after landslides buried houses and rain at the weekend loosened soil in a further threat to unstable houses.

Yoshihide Suga, the top government spokesman, said a team of about 40,000 Self-Defense Force troops, police, firefighters and others were working on clearing debris and other clean-up operations. There were no more missing residents, he said.

Power supply has been restored to nearly all customers in Hokkaido but trade minister Hiroshige Seko called on the island's businesses and 5.3 million residents to use about 20 percent less energy to prevent further blackouts.

"It's very important now for all residents, businesses, the government, and electricity suppliers to work together towards this goal of 20 percent energy-saving," Seko told a news conference late on Sunday.

The government has no plans for rolling blackouts on Monday and Tuesday despite the continued closure of a fossil fuel-fired power plant that supplies about half the island's power, he said.

With electricity restored, Toyota Motor Corp said on Monday its parts factory in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, which builds transmissions and other components, was preparing to resume production during the night shift.

However, the fallout has already spread beyond the island, with Toyota suspending production at 16 of its 18 domestic car assembly plants on Monday to assess its parts inventory. The automaker said it would gradually restore production from Tuesday, resuming work fully by Thursday.

© Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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How is it that geothermal plants are not common in Japan when Japan is sitting on a bunch of massive boiling kettles? If mother nature is gonna take a couple of punches at you, why not swing back with class instead of cheap sucker-punches like fossil fuels and nuclear reactors?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

How is it that geothermal plants are not common in Japan when Japan is sitting on a bunch of massive boiling kettles? If mother nature is gonna take a couple of punches at you, why not swing back with class instead of cheap sucker-punches like fossil fuels and nuclear reactors?

Quick answer, because politicians, fell into the trap of thinking that cheap energy, (nuclear) was the way to go, and literally NO ONE listened nor cared about the potential disasters waiting to happen here.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It's fantastic that Japan has the resourses to send 40,000 troops to do the manual work when they would otherwise be sitting on their bunks or doing some boring training. I do hope they get proper care though. Many will witness scenes that will not easily be forgotten.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

KnowBetter; Because geothermal plants don't fill the pockets of .... well you know who, enough.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Geothermal, solar, wave and wind are all free and plentiful

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Solar power seems the obvious resource

And to build on this point, I would suggest that all new houses have solar panels built into the roof.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ithe does have some. However exploiting it to the full as an energy resource means closing the onsen industry and it still wouldn't provide enough.

I think the amount of energy required for onsen is negligible compared with the total energy potential.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@nessie - Plans for geothermal power plants are usually blocked by the National Parks Authority, who always fear that tourism and the environment will be destroyed. A trip to New Zealand will quickly disprove that, their plants are well integrated into the local environment and hard to see.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How is it that geothermal plants are not common in Japan when Japan is sitting on a bunch of massive boiling kettles? 

Ithe does have some. However exploiting it to the full as an energy resource means closing the onsen industry and it still wouldn't provide enough.

Solar power seems the obvious resource - it could do the heavy lifting for much of the year, put on mountainsides inland.

More wind too, although this is still an expensive option overall.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

How is it that geothermal plants are not common in Japan when Japan is sitting on a bunch of massive boiling kettles? If mother nature is gonna take a couple of punches at you, why not swing back with class instead of cheap sucker-punches like fossil fuels and nuclear reactors?

They're not particularly efficient and the most active geothermal spots are in national parks (Lake Shikotsu, Lake Toya, the Shiretoko Peninsula...).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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