The Japanese government has warned millions of people in the Tokyo area to save energy or face power cuts, as the capital battles record temperatures in June after the season ended prematurely rains.
Temperatures of 35C (95F) were forecast for the city throughout the day, with similar extreme weather conditions expected for the rest of the week, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
“We ask the public to reduce their power consumption in the early evening when the reserve rate drops,” Yoshihiko Isozaki, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.
Isozaki advised households and businesses to turn off unused lights and limit air conditioning use, though he added that people should guard against heatstroke.
The Ministry of Economy and Industry said residents of the area served by Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] should save energy, especially when demand peaks in the late afternoon and early evening. Reports indicate that spare generation capacity was likely to drop by up to 3.7% in Tokyo and the surrounding region at that time; below 3% there is a risk of power shortages and blackouts.
Kaname Ogawa, director of electricity supply policy at the ministry, said electricity demand was higher than expected as the temperature rose above forecasts on Sunday. “We are hit with unseasonably hot weather,” Ogawa said. “Please cooperate and save as much energy as possible.”
Much of Japan would normally experience less uncomfortable temperatures amid the rainy season. But on Monday, the agency said the season was over — the first date on record — in the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo.
It was the earliest end to the season since records began in 1951 and 22 days earlier than usual.
The heat has affected other parts of the country in recent days. On Sunday, the city of Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, recorded the country’s highest temperature in June, at 40.2C.
More than 250 people were taken to hospitals in the capital over the weekend after suffering heatstroke, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
“Immediately after the end of the rainy season, many people are not yet fully acclimatized to the heat and face an increased risk of heat stroke,” the weather agency said in a statement.
Authorities have encouraged people to remove their masks when outdoors to avoid heat stroke, although many were still wearing face coverings in Tokyo on Monday.
Asako Naruse, who was visiting the city, said she had never experienced such brutal heat in early summer. “I’m from northern Japan, so these temperatures seem really extreme,” she said.