Saturday, April 16, 2011

'Power cuts threaten Japan economy'

A fire engine and other vehicles park on the debris-strewn compounds of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, April 11.

Source: Press TV

Some economists have described power cuts as the greatest threat to Japan's economic recovery as the country continues to grapple with the post-quake nuclear crisis.

According to Changyong Rhee, a senior economist at the Asian Development Bank, the prolonged power cuts can “hurt not just the affected area, but the whole of Japan.”

"Initially, we thought that power supply would be normalized by the end of April; it looks like it is going to be a bit longer than that,” AFP quoted Rhee as saying

Eleven of Japan's 55 nuclear reactors, producing six percent of the country's electricity, have faced difficulties in operation and thus have brought about power shortages especially in the affected areas in the north.

The government has already imposed electricity-saving targets to reduce consumption by up to 25 percent for the summer of 2011.

Tokyo and eight nearby prefectures may have a shortage of 15,000 megawatts, should temperatures this summer approach last year's levels, the government says.

“The possibility of blackouts or limits to production has extremely worried me. It would be very damaging for the manufacturing,” said Yoshihiro Murai, the governor of Miyagi prefecture, one of the worst affected areas.

Toyota, world's biggest car manufacturer, is estimated by auto analysts to lose 200 billion yen ($2.397 billion) in the current fiscal year due to lack of component and power supplies.

Japanese factories had previously sustained a great blow to their production by limited access to necessary components because of the damaged infrastructure and the power cuts have increased their concerns.

This comes despite desperate attempts to contain leaks at the ailing Fukushima power plant.

The operator of Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, is now struggling to pull damaged spent fuel rods out of a storage pool at one of the reactors.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of those killed or missing from the quake and tsunami now stands at over 28,000.

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