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Asia Minute: Summer heat brings energy worries in Tokyo

japan power crunch heat wave 062722
Hiro Komae/AP
A man with his handkerchief on his head walks across an intersection in Tokyo, Monday, June 27, 2022. The Japanese government warned of possible power shortages Monday in the Tokyo region, asking people to conserve energy as the country endures an unusually intense heat wave. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Summer’s been here for a little more than a week — in Hawaiʻi and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Already, high temperatures have come to several parts of the region. That’s the case in many parts of Japan — including Tokyo — where a hot summer is threatening to complicate the city’s energy picture.

Over the weekend, temperatures spiked to more than 104 degrees in a city about 50 miles outside Tokyo.

That’s more than 40 degrees Celsius — the first time on record that’s happened in June in Japan.

By Monday, government officials were asking people in the Japanese capital to conserve energy — especially in the late afternoon when demand peaks.

Tokyo summers have grown increasingly sweltering over recent years — but temperatures have been rising for decades.

According to the NASA Earth Observatory, human-caused global warming has sent temperatures higher by nearly 3 degrees Fahrenheit in Tokyo since 1964 — and by more than 5 degrees since 1900.

NASA says that’s nearly three times the global average.

Japan’s energy crunch is complicated by global events — including an embargo on fossil fuel imports from Russia, as well as a decline in domestic coal production.

As for renewable energy, Japan’s latest figures show about 23% of its electricity comes from renewables.

That’s roughly on par with the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration — but significantly lower than the use of renewables to produce electricity in Hawaiʻi.

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