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Asia Minute: Daylight Saving Time: Coming to Japan?

Jan Smith

Hawai‘i and Japan share a number of cultural ties, but there’s another practice that’s the same in both locations. Neither observes Daylight Saving Time. But in Japan, that may change.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to take a closer look at whether it’s time for Japan to change its clocks.

He’s asking the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to study whether it’s worth adopting Daylight Saving Time to deal with the summer heat — especially with the Olympics coming to Tokyo in 2020.

The basic idea of Daylight Saving Time is to set clocks ahead in warmer weather — extending the hours of light at the end of the day. It also has the effect of making the morning hours just a bit cooler. If you’re an Olympic runner, that’s the part that carries a lot of appeal.

Tokyo’s been sweltering through a brutal summer, and Olympic officials are concerned about conditions in 2020. The Olympics take place from July 24th to August 9th – followed by the Paralympics from August 25th to September 6th.

Japan used daylight saving just after the Second World War, under the American occupation. But when the Americans left, so did the changing of the clocks.

Credit Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Reuters says that much political opposition to the practice was based on the idea that if sundown came later, people would be forced to stay at work later because there would be peer pressure to stay until after dark.

Hawai‘i opted out of Daylight Saving Time because the seasonal differences in light are not as pronounced as in the rest of the country because Hawai‘i is closer to the equator.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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