Earthquake damage, warning of power outages in Japan in cold weather

The Japanese government is warning the public about possible blackouts because power supply is low after several coal-fired power plants were temporarily shut down following last week’s earthquake.

TOKYO – The Japanese government on Tuesday warned of possible blackouts in the Tokyo region as power supply was cut off after a number of coal-fired power plants were temporarily shut down following last week’s earthquake.

Rare caution, families and organizations have been urged to save electricity, as the Tokyo region faces snowfall and unusually cold weather in early spring, prompting the use of heaters.

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake off the coast of Fukushima on Wednesday killed at least four people and injured more than 230 when people were reminded of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands, triggered a nuclear disaster and destroyed the coast of northeastern Japan.

Last week’s quake caused temporary power outages in 2 million homes in Tokyo and eight other areas as the region’s coal-fired power plants assessed and repaired by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings assessed and repaired the damage.

Power has been restored since then, but the grid was severely strained due to unusual snow and cold, officials said.

By mid-afternoon, conservation efforts were not enough to avoid a blackout, Economy and Industries Minister Koichi Hagiuda said.

Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport has partially turned off the terminal’s lights and air conditioning. Amusement parks and some organizations in the region have switched to their backup generators to help with conservation efforts.

Tuesday marked the end of Japan’s nationwide COVID-19 ban because the infection showed signs of slowing down, and bars and restaurants would have to return to normal service hours, but guests may have to eat in dim light.

Without further energy conservation, blackouts would be inevitable in large areas, Hagiuda warned, urging department stores, supermarkets and convenience stores to close neon signs and urging manufacturing plants to conserve as much energy as possible.

So far, no blackouts have been reported, but utility partner TEPCO Power Grid said about 3 million homes could be without power after 8 p.m.

Leave a Comment