As previously warned, Japan’s dominant utility company Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has begun reducing electricity to some areas of the country, creating rolling blackouts in many regions, in an unprecedented measure to conserve power following the severe damage incurred by two key nuclear power plants in Japan’s northeast.
The rolling blackouts commenced at 5 p.m. (local Japan time) in regions which TEPCO calls “Group 5” – a large area comprising Chiba, Ibaraki, Yamanashi, Shizuoka and five other prefectures — and continued until 7 p.m. The blackout also affected at least 300,000 residences in a number of municipalities in the Kanto region, including Yokohama and Kawasaki.
Overall, TEPCO’s power cuts are expected to affect 45-million people in an area that includes Tokyo, Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Saitama, Tochigi, Yamanashi and part of Shizuoka prefectures.
The power outages has caused and confusion, especially for millions of train commuters who found their transportation services has been cancelled.
I was really confused about both the power cuts and the train services. If TEPCO already has decided on the power cuts, they should go ahead and implement them instead of changing at the last minute. It's just too confusing, Nobuyoshi Takashimaya, a Tokyo commuter, told reporters.
One resident of Kanagawa prefecture said she was stuck on the train for about an hour on Monday morning.
I watched the TV saying that our areas shouldn't be affected in the morning, but my line was delayed due to an impact from power shortage, she said.
TEPCO warned that in order to preserve power, it may subject certain parts of the nation to blackouts lasting as much as six hours.
Japan’s railway system further warned that disruption to its services may last at least until April (or as long as TEPCO provides reduced electrical services).
Railways warned that Monday's disorder may continue well into April, and as long as TEPCO continues its rolling power outages.
Regarding our operations from tomorrow, it will all depend on how TEPCO will proceed with the blackouts, a railway spokeswoman said.
Tokyo Metro Company, which runs the huge subway system in the city, also warned of lengthy service disruptions.