Japan Urges Industry to Cut Energy Use 15%

The Japanese government is pushing its industrial sector and citizens in certain parts of the country to reduce the amount of energy they use, in an attempt to avoid summer blackouts.

The country is facing a shortage of electric power after shutting down all 50 of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor (pictured) last year,the BBC reports.

Public skepticism about the safety of nuclear power led to the shutdown. The final operational reactor went offline for routine maintenance two weeks ago. None have been turned back on yet, the BBC reports.

As a result, businesses and citizens in the heavily industrialized western area of Japan served by Kansai Electric Power are being asked – but not mandated – to try and cut their energy use by 15 percent, the BBC reports. According to The Wall Street Journal, consumers in other areas of Japan are being asked to try and cut their energy use by 5 to 10 percent in order to feed power to Japan’s west. The reductions are planned from July to September.

Rail stations are dimming passageway lights, according to the BBC. Electronics giant Panasonic plans to set its air conditioning to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Rival Sharp is planning on using less lighting and letting staff dress more casually to limit heating and cooling use, reports Reuters.

This is not the first time businesses have turned to energy saving techniques as  a result of the Fukishima crisis. In March 2011, in the direct aftermath of the tsunami, Tokyo-based tire and rubber company Bridgestone asked employees at its office buildings and technical center to minimize their use of elevators, share office equipment and turn out lights wherever practical. The firm also shut off billboards, minimized the use of IT systems and closed its corporate museum.

Last June the Japanese government launched a “Super Cool Biz” campaign, pushing workers to wear Hawaiian shirts, T-shirts and sandals to save electricity. Then in November, it asked workers to pile on the sweaters.

The original crisis caused rolling blackouts across Japan. An aftershock that hit in northern Japan just weeks after the initial blast left nearly a million people without power and stopped production at several major companies.