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Tokyo warned of power crunch as Japan endures heat wave

TOKYO (AP) – The Japanese government warned of possible power shortages yesterday in the Tokyo region, asking people to conserve energy as the country endures an unusually intense heat wave.

Weather officials announced the earliest end to the annual summer rainy season since the Japan Meteorological Agency began keeping records in 1951. Rains usually temper summer heat, often well into July.

The Economy and Industry Ministry urged people living in the region serviced by the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to conserve power in the afternoon, especially when demand peaks at 4pm to 5pm.

Director of electricity supply policy at the ministry Kaname Ogawa said electricity demand yesterday was bigger than expected because the temperature is higher than Sunday’s forecast.

“We are struck by unusual heat for the season,” Ogawa said. “Please cooperate and save as much power as possible.” Ogawa, however, said people should use air conditioning appropriately and take precautions against heat stroke.

People, some holding parasols, cross an intersection amid heat in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

TEPCO is expecting contributions from the Tohoku Electric Power Co, which serves Japan’s northern prefectures, to help ease the crunch. The Japanese archipelago has seen record high temperatures for June in some areas. In Isezaki, north of Tokyo, the temperature rose to 40.2 degrees Celsius on Saturday, the highest ever for June. Temperature in downtown Tokyo rose to nearly 35 degrees Celsius yesterday, higher than the forecast on Sunday of 34 degrees Celsius. With humidity at about 44 per cent, temperatures felt still warmer.

With hot air coming from a powerful high atmospheric pressure system stalled over the Pacific Ocean, high temperatures were expected until early July, the meteorological agency said.

Over 250 people were taken to hospitals in Tokyo over the weekend for treatment of heat stroke, according to the Mainichi newspaper.

The power supply is relatively tight after Japan idled most of its nuclear reactors after 2011 meltdowns in Fukushima.