The government urged residents of the capital to turn off lights and power switches at three o’clock in the afternoon and “properly” use air conditioning as the country grapples with a growing electricity shortage.
The request came despite warnings from experts that record temperatures could persist for several weeks.
“Please save as much energy as possible, such as turning off lights that are not in use,” the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Monday. It talks about the proper use of an air conditioner to “prevent heat stroke”.
On Tuesday, Tokyo endured a scorching heatwave for the fourth straight day after setting records for June over the weekend.
Temperatures in the capital hit 35.4 degrees Celsius (about 96 Fahrenheit) on Saturday, while the city of Isesaki, northwest of Tokyo, hit 40.2 degrees Celsius (about 104 Fahrenheit), the highest in the country in June from the start of record keeping in 1875. A city in central Japan reached 35.1 degrees Celsius (about 95 Fahrenheit), while the Takada area in Niigata Prefecture on the west coast recorded 36.7 degrees Celsius (about 98 Fahrenheit).
The sweltering temperatures are forecast to continue through the end of the week and possibly worsen, meaning electricity demand is likely to pick up as residents stay at home and turn on air conditioners.
In addition to the heat, floods flooded Yellowstone National Park, wildfires broke out in Arizona and New Mexico, and severe storms caused widespread power outages in the northern Midwest and the Ohio River Valley.
“With further global warming, more frequent and intense urban heatwaves should be expected,” said climate scientist Winston Chow from the Singapore University of Management College of Integrative Studies.
“I’m afraid that for such places it [now] the new climate is normal…if nothing is done to adapt and mitigate the causes of climate change.”
Of particular concern, according to Chow, is the impact of extreme heat on the elderly, who make up 28% of Japan’s population.
“Older people are biologically, physiologically predisposed to being more vulnerable to heat-related injury, and more than a quarter of Japan’s population is over 65 years old. The risk of heat stress and stroke without any attempt at adaptation would be very high in Tokyo, Chou said.