Japan lifts power outage warning, but supply outlook fragile

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. blackout / ˈblækˌaʊt / (n.) – a period when there’s no electricity because of power failure and everything goes dark

    The entire region experienced a massive blackout after the storm.

  2. shortfall / ˈʃɔrtˌfɔl / (n.) – failure to get the amount that is wanted or needed

    We can’t continue the project because there’s a budget shortfall.

  3. carbon neutrality / ˈkɑr bən nuˈtræ lə ti / (n.) – a state where an organization does not add carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by doing activities that protect the environment

    Carbon neutrality is possible if people would plant more trees and use solar energy.

  4. crunch / krʌntʃ / (n.) – a severe shortage of something needed

    The power crunch affected many businesses because they needed to close their shops early since there wasn’t enough electricity.

  5. meltdown / ˈmɛltˌdaʊn / (n.) – a situation where nuclear fuel gets very hot, melts through its container, and then releases radiation

    A nuclear meltdown is very dangerous.


Read the text below.

Japan’s government lifted a warning of potential blackouts for the Tokyo region Wednesday (March 23, 2022) as weather and conservation efforts improved, but the supply outlook still appears fragile with several coal-fired plants offline.

The energy shortfall came as people used more power to keep warm on an unusually cold, snowy day Tuesday and followed an earthquake last week that caused several coal-fired plants to temporarily stop generating electricity.

The Economy and Industry Ministry lifted the alert for potential blackouts late Wednesday morning as sunny weather allowed solar power generation to resume. The ministry, however, called for continuing conservation efforts because some coal-fired plants will remain offline for up to another few months.

While Japan aims to reach carbon neutrality in 2050, it still relies significantly on fossil fuel. While Japan pushes to develop renewables, the government seeks to restart more nuclear power plants although the public’s safety concern runs high after the Fukushima disaster.

On March 16, a magnitude-7.4 earthquake off the northeastern coast killed four people, damaged buildings and caused power outages that peaked at 2 million homes in Tokyo and eight other areas.

A subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings said late Tuesday conservation efforts had largely lifted the threat of blackouts.

Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport turned off some lighting and air conditioning in its terminals. Tokyo’s SkyTree tower canceled its nighttime lights on Tuesday. Amusement parks and some companies switched to backup generators.

Tuesday’s power crunch was believed to be among the worst since the government conducted planned outages in the Tokyo area for 10 days after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns in 2011.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The Japanese government lifted the warning for potential blackouts, but coal-fired plants will remain offline for up to another few months. Do you think blackouts will soon happen in your country more often? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • The government seeks to restart more nuclear power plants despite public safety concerns following the Fukushima disaster. Do you agree with restarting more nuclear power plants? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Various establishments devoted conservation efforts to lift the threat of blackouts. Do you think these efforts should continue even after the warning of potential blackouts has been lifted? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you think it’s possible for Japan to reach carbon neutrality in 2050? Why or why not? Discuss.