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Updated: June 8, 2011 03:26 IST

To save power, Tokyo starts work early

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Models display summer business wear in Tokyo on June 1. Japan is encouraging workers to dress down and save energy at work.
Models display summer business wear in Tokyo on June 1. Japan is encouraging workers to dress down and save energy at work.

Facing a power crunch and a scorching summer, some of nearly 10,000 Tokyo city government employees started their work shifts an hour earlier on Monday to conserve energy amid shortages spawned by the damage to a tsunami-hit nuclear plant.

Tokyo government workers' on the earliest shift start at 7.30 a.m. and will be allowed to leave at 4.15 p.m.

By better exploiting the early daylight hours this summer, city officials hope to use less air conditioning and office lighting at night. “It should be a good thing, and it doesn't require any cost,” said Tokyo's Governor Shintaro Ishihara on Friday. “I think all of Japan should shift to the summer time hours.”

To prevent blackouts in the wake of the March 11 disaster, which knocked out Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Japan's central government has asked companies and government offices to cut electricity usage by 15 per cent. It wants companies to limit air conditioning and set room temperatures at a warm 28 degrees Celsius.

Officials are also encouraged to follow a new dress code called “Super Cool Biz” launched last week that urged employees to wear lighter clothing, such as polo shirts, Aloha shirts and even sneakers instead of the traditional tie and jacket.

Households across Tokyo are advised to use electric fans instead of air conditioners, unplug appliances when not in use, and raise temperature settings on refrigerators. TEPCO expects to supply 53.8 million kilowatts for Tokyo and its vicinity in July, which is short of an estimated demand of 60 million kilowatts. Tokyo uses one-third of TEPCO's output.

Mr. Ishihara has set a more aggressive target of 25 percent reduction in energy use for Tokyo, and officials are hoping that government workers' new hours will spill over to the private sector.

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