Japan firms swelter amid nuke shutdowns

Aug. 11, 2012 at 1:22 PM

TOKYO, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Japanese employers say slogging through the dog days of summer while reducing electricity consumption has been a tough job.

Japan this year shut down nearly all of its nuclear power plants in the wake of last year's tsunami and the resulting disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has required companies to make significant cuts in power consumption at a time of year when air-conditioning demand is high.

The Washington Post said Saturday the need to shut down air conditioners has forced companies to cut down on production or run expensive generators, and may be eroding public opinion about the nuclear shutdowns.

"It's preferable to reduce our dependency on nuclear power plants in the medium- to long-term," said Cathy Liu, a Panasonic spokeswoman. "However, there is no other way but to keep using nuclear power plants...as we do not have an alternative energy at this point."

Panasonic ordered its workers to take a 9-day paid vacation last month and other companies have been shifting work hours to non-peak periods at night and on weekends, the Post said.

Some economists and business leaders are warning the power squeeze will eat into company profits and could cause the entire Japanese economy to stall.

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