Tokyo These Days

Editor’s Note: Joel M. holds a Ph.D. in Biology and currently resides in Tokyo, Japan. He has volunteered his time and insights to the RDTN.org blog.

Right now things are quiet but fine.

We are not having many rolling blackouts for now.  Actually, in this whole time, I only had one blackout for 2 hours.

Supermarkets have most things,  There is more than enough food.  Just a few things like milk, eggs, bread may sell out in one store, but be available in another. Some bottled beverages, like Coke, may be in short supply, but it is because the bottle cap suppliers can’t manufacture enough right now. (For want of a nail…)

Many people are telecommuting.  Good thing they got broadband available more or less everywhere in Japan 12 years ago and have been giving tax breaks for the last 3 years encouraging people to buy a laptop and work from home at least some of the time, so about 20% of people were set up and ready to go.

Lots of lights are turned off, so it may seem more deserted than it is.  Inside has been about the same number of customers in some I go to, but of course on the whole business is way off. Aftershocks have progressed from being only 150 miles from Tokyo to being now less than 50, more or less, so I think the stress has clearly been transferred to plates near Tokyo.  People often go home at 5:00 instead of working late in the night because we know we could have another big quake and no one wants to get stuck downtown like the last time.

I am continuing my LED campaign, swapping out an LED for people I know to show them what they are.  Every one I do cuts 150 kwh per year, and then the owner of the business gets the idea and does the rest.  One small restaurant cut its annual electricity use by 1,000 kwh for very modest investment (top of the line Toshiba, Panasonic, and Sharp LEDs have dropped as low as $15 if you know how to hunt for sales in Akihabara).  The government should give each household a couple of LEDs.  Most people don’t know what they are, and this problem has become urgent.

Off to work now.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joel M.