By: Olivia Zhang
If someone had traveled to Japan this past week, they would have been very surprised at first to see the lights off in buildings like offices and homes. Why is that? Do the Japanese people not like light? Well, the sudden darkness of some of these places can be attributed to the searing heat wave that has struck Japan.
Many cities in Japan have had to deal with blistering heat in the previous week. According to an article in the New York Times, in Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture, the temperature reached more than 104 degrees, almost passing a record set several years ago.
Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency says that more than 4,500 people with heat stroke and dehydration have been taken to hospitals, over four times the number of people who suffered similarly a few years ago. A few deaths have been blamed on the recent heat wave, too.
Even with the safety precautions that are now in place, there is danger of electricity and fuel outages in Japan. Power companies and officials have advised cutting back on all forms of electricity except air conditioning, because the extreme heat might cause the power grid to be under too much pressure.
Hence, many people have turned off the lights where they are working or living. “Most of the lights in my office are off,” said Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo. “It’s dark.”
Other ways to deal with the heat are to take off masks when outside, use a parasol or umbrella, set the refrigerator to a colder temperature, and turn off the heated toilet seats that are favored in Japan.
However, there is some good news to look forward to: The Ministry of Economy in Japan thinks that the heat wave is likely to ease up in a few days' time. “The heat is expected to be reduced next week, and the power demand will also be less,” the ministry stated.