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Japan to lift power-saving decree earlier than planned
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 30, 2011

Restrictions on power use in and around Tokyo will be lifted two weeks earlier than scheduled thanks to an improved supply and demand balance as the peak summer heat eases, the government said Tuesday.

Japan imposed a 15 percent curb on the peak electricity consumption of large companies in the Tokyo and Tohoku regions on July 1, after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis and led to a serious power crunch in Asia's second-largest economy.

The industry ministry said it will end the power-saving drive on September 9 in the service area of the Fukushima plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), two weeks earlier than originally planned.

The ministry also said it will remove the similar restriction in Tohoku Electric's territory, severely hit by the earthquake and tsunami, on Friday instead of September 9 as previously scheduled.

"The balance of power supply and demand in the Tokyo and Tohoku service areas has improved," the ministry said in a statement.

The early lifting of the order aims in part to alleviate its impact on reconstruction work in disaster-hit areas, the government said.

Under the power-saving drive aimed at cutting blackout risks after the loss of capacity, large companies that violate the decree would have faced fines of up to one million yen ($13,000).

Even after the power-saving order is lifted, the government is still asking large companies to try to cut back electricity use voluntarily by 15 percent due to concerns about the possibility of a late-summer heat wave next month.

Leading automakers who have cut peak power consumption by keeping plants idle on two weekdays instead of at weekends have no plans to change their schedule for the time being, a spokesman from the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said.

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