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Japanese Firms Turn Out Lights, Redefine Weekend to Save Energy

Japan is embracing energy efficiency at an unprecedented rate, as the country continues to deal with the fall-out from its nuclear energy crisis, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The government has ordered a 15 percent cut in electricity use in the Tokyo and Tohoku regions starting July 1, to avoid blackouts. As a result, elevators and escalators have been stopped in train stations and offices; convenience stores and some vending machines have turned off their lights; and many offices are setting their thermostats to 28 degrees C (82 F).

Casio Computer Co. will redefine employee weekends as Sundays and Wednesdays, starting July 6, in order to stagger its energy consumption peaks and troughs. Candy maker Morinaga & Co. has asked workers to start and end their day an hour earlier, so they work in cooler weather. And many employers are asking staff to take longer summer vacations, the WSJ says.

In recent weeks the Japanese government launched a campaign encouraging office workers to wear flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts in order to save electricity.

“If it’s as hot as last year, we won’t be able to work,” says Eiichi Yamamoto, head of the environment department at Arakawa ward, speaking form a dark office. He says the ward offices will not use air conditioning this summer, even though July and August temperatures often exceed 100 degrees F and approach 100 percent humidity.

“We have to do overtime in the morning and not in the evening, and be very careful we don’t get heatstroke,” Yamamoto adds.

Picture credit: neonarcade

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