Monday 12 September 2011


setsu: cut off something wasteful, restrain
den: electricity
chuu: centre, middle, in progress, underway

Up, Down, Appendices.

Setsuden-chuu.Setsuden-chuu: restraint of electricity use underway.


Or just setsuden: conservation.

Setsuden.There are no proof-readers at the Globe anymore, and considering the undefined 'setsuni' in the second-last sentence, and the second period closing the final sentence, I at first relegated this article (below) to the 'noted and binned' category.
Then I just so happened to be having a few beers with a Japanese man and the topic came up (when it was vociferously asserted by some nearby neanderthals that conservation is emphatically not an alternative to increased energy consumption) ... so I came back to it (so I could send the link to this fellow) and discovered that Mr. Rubin had in fact under-stated the case (again par for the Globe on issues related to climate change). See these articles (also below) in the Guardian and New York Times.

EIA via NAE.As of 2005 Japan used about half as much energy per person as United States (the table comes from the EIA via the NAE).

With the tsunami in March and the Fukushima fiasco, and the subsequent shut-down of many of Japan's nuclear plants, something had to give. Enter Setsuden, 'electricity conservation' - with 15-20% reductions already reported and 25% hoped for. In less than six months!

So, round numbers - about 60% of energy consumed in North America is squandered, doesn't have to be squandered, could be conserved without mass-starvation &etc.


Setsuden.The word itself is interesting:
       Major Japanese buzzword: 'Setsuden',
       節 --- cut off wasteful something, and,

That's it. A quickie.

I presume I do not have to beat you over the head to see that our governments at all levels (royal, corporate, federal, provincial, & municipal) have been lying outrageously, dragging their heels, don't really care what goes on beyond the end of their trough &etc.

Similarly I presume anyone can see that you don't need a tsunami and nuclear melt-down to make this happen - what you need is simply the will to do it.

Be well.


1. Setsuden poised to replace nuclear power in Japan, Jeff Rubin, August 3 2011.

2. Energy-saving 'setsuden' campaign sweeps Japan after Fukushima, Suvendrini Kakuchi, August 22 2011.

3. Japanese, in Shortage, Willingly Ration Watts, Norimitsu Onishi, July 28 2011.

Setsuden poised to replace nuclear power in Japan, Jeff Rubin, August 3 2011.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was recently quoted as seeing the country as a nuclear-free nation. But unlike similar pronouncements from Germany, which pledges to be nuclear-free by 2022, Japan may become nuclear free literally within a year.

That would be quite a feat for a country that only five months ago relied on nuclear plants for about 30 per cent of its electrical power.

By some measures, the country is already two-thirds of the way to becoming nuclear free. Thirty eight of the country’s 54 reactors are currently shut down, and there are no dates set for their return to service.

Aside from the irretrievably damaged reactors at the Fukushima power plant, reactors have been shut down across Japan for maintenance checks. The only problem is once the nuclear plants are shut down, none have been restarted as local governments have balked against their reopening.

By law, all Japanese reactors must be temporarily shut down for maintenance every 13 months. All of the currently operating reactors have maintenance scheduled by next spring. As a result, if the present pattern of indefinite shutdowns after maintenance inspections continues, Japan could effectively be nuclear free by next spring.

But will the lights go out on the world’s third largest economy when that happens? Even with boosting hydrocarbon-based power generation to the hilt, the Japanese government estimates it will still be at least 10 per cent short of peak power demand expected for next summer.

If, however, you look at Tokyo this summer, there is reason for the Japanese to be optimistic.

When the March 11 tsunami knocked out more than half of the nuclear power plants servicing Tokyo, the 30 million person metropolis lost about one-fifth of its power supply just as it was heading into the peak summer power season. But there have been no power shortages in Tokyo this summer despite the sweltering heat.

The reason is setsuden - the Japanese word for power conservation. It’s suddenly the new watchword of post- Fukushima Japan. And this new mantra of energy conservation mandates as much of a change in the practices of Japanese business and the lifestyles of Japanese households as the OPEC oil shocks did three decades ago.

From convincing staid Japanese businessmen to stop wearing suits and turning down the office air conditioning to closing the energy-sucking visitors gallery of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Japanese government is asking for 15 per cent to 20 per cent power cuts from the boardrooms of the country’s powerful corporate sector. And it is asking no less in power savings from the Japanese in their homes.

As setsuni continues to pare back the power requirements of the Japanese economy, maybe the country won’t need the power from the 54 reactors that it might mothball by next year.

If so, setsuden isn’t just an energy solution for Japan.

Energy-saving 'setsuden' campaign sweeps Japan after Fukushima, Suvendrini Kakuchi, August 22 2011.

Neon lights are switched off, trains are running slower and billboards flash energy savings as Japan looks to alternative sources of energy beyond nuclear power.

After decades of not bothering to switch off the lights in unoccupied rooms in their Tokyo home, Masayoshi Sakurai and his children now meticulously make sure they do.

"My wife used to badger us to switch off the lights because she was worried about high electricity bills. Now all of us have begun saving energy, by reducing the use of air-conditioners, turning off the computer and so on," explained the corporate employee.

Sakurai is part of a growing movement in Japan, led by a media campaign called 'setsuden' (power saving in Japanese), that has begun to spread support for limiting electricity consumption.

"Public support is strong for setsuden mostly because they fear power blackouts of the type caused by the disastrous Fukushima nuclear accident," says Kazuko Sato, of Soft Energy Project, a non- government organisation that lobbies for renewable energy expansion.

Sato told IPS that the energy saving mood sweeping the country is a new trend in Japan that gives an opportunity to push for clean energy over national policy that favours nuclear power.

She explained that the challenge facing green activists is to link the setsuden mood to banning nuclear energy.

"To push renewable and safe energy to the national forefront and reduce Japan's reliance on nuclear energy, it is important to sustain the current public setsuden mood. I am worried that the public support could be temporary," she said.

Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind provide for less than two percent of Japan's total power consumption.

Tokyo, a bustling capital famous for its neon lights, has now turned into a city of darkened buildings and slower running trains. Billboards at major crossings flash daily rates of power consumption that tell whether the city has conserved sufficient energy to avoid a blackout.

Hisayo Takada, energy expert at Greenpeace Japan, a leading environment organisation, says such developments are important but do not necessarily translate into public anger against nuclear power.

"The public setsuden sentiment is merely symbolic. Everybody is joining the bandwagon as an expression of solidarity at a time of distress. What is more important is to create a deeper front against dangerous nuclear power," she told IPS.

A massive earthquake and tsunami on Mar. 11 destroyed Japan's largest nuclear power plant at Fukushima, forcing the government to review the national policy on nuclear energy that currently meets 30 percent of the national demand.

Japan has 54 nuclear reactors of which only 15 are in operation currently, with some of them set to undergo stress tests as a precaution after the Fukushima disaster.

As a result, the total electricity supplied by the ten major utilities in July dropped by almost nine percent, or 83 billion kilowatt hours, in comparison to supply in 2010, according to the Federation of Electric Power Companies.

Well-known Japanese author Kazutoshi Hanto, in an interview on Japanese television, likened the current power-saving efforts to 1945 post-war Japan when people worked hard to rebuild their country.

"National unity in the form of setsuden mirrors the early post-war diligence of the Japanese who worked single-mindedly to rebuild the country.

"There are new ideas and efforts rising from the worst nuclear disaster in Japan," Hanto said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is pushing a national goal to generate 20 percent of electricity from alternative energy sources such as solar and wind. Japan will legislate to mandate utilities to buy electricity generated from these sources at prices set by the government.

Such steps are long overdue, environmentalists say. There is also increasing interest among equipment manufacturers to develop energy saving products.

Major companies such as Toshiba Corp and Mitsubishi Electric Corp announced collaboration last month to promote next generation energy-saving housing that will use solar panels and home appliances linked to a computer network to save power.

The fear that the Fukushima accident is threatening massive radiation contamination has led to rising opposition in Japan to nuclear power. Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, is struggling with huge compensation payments.

"The difficult times we face today present an opportunity which we must not miss. Post-disaster Japan has to change and we can only do this through a long-term approach to develop a safer Japan," Sato said.

Japanese, in Shortage, Willingly Ration Watts, Norimitsu Onishi, July 28 2011.

TOKYO — With Japan suffering from electricity shortages this summer, Michio Kuniyuki has stepped up his conservation patrols of Rikkyo University.

Mitsuharu Taniyama has the lights dimmed in his insurance business in Yokohama. In many places, that fan isn't allowed.

As he has done these past six summers, Mr. Kuniyuki spends his days making sure the lights and air-conditioning have not been left on in empty classrooms. Whenever he finds students in a classroom, he turns off the air-conditioning and inquires about the lights.

“Should I leave them on or can I turn them off?” Mr. Kuniyuki asked one day.

“Uh,” one young man hesitated, giving Mr. Kuniyuki the opening for his next move.

Click. Off.

Now backed by a colleague newly assigned to the patrols, Mr. Kuniyuki has been able to strategically map out their routes throughout the campus and outwit students who used to switch the lights back on as soon as they saw his back. “It’s doubly effective,” he said.

Already a leader in conservation, Japan consumes about half as much energy per capita as the United States, according to the United Nations Population Fund. But it has been pushed to even greater lengths since the nuclear disaster even as it tries to revive its economy. The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and the resulting backlash against nuclear power have left only 17 out of Japan’s 54 reactors online as the nation steels itself for August, the hottest month of the year.

Preliminary figures indicate that regions under conservation mandates have been able to meet reduction targets and even exceed them, providing a possible model of conservation’s potential when concerns about global warming are mounting. In the Tokyo area, the government is pushing to cut electricity use by 15 percent between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays to prevent blackouts — and on Thursday, for example, that target was met compared with last year.

Japanese are bringing to the conservation drive a characteristic combination of national fervor, endurance, sloganeering, technology and social coercion.

A “Super Cool Biz” campaign, which builds on the option of no-tie summer business attire begun in 2005, now encourages salarymen to dress down even further by wearing polo shirts or the traditional aloha-style shirts worn on the Japanese tropical islands of Okinawa.

To back up the call to conserve, electricity reports that forecast the day’s power supply and track demand in real time have become as much a part of this summer as the scorching sun and humid air. They are delivered along with the weather on the morning news and announced along with the next stop aboard some trains.

Government alerts are also sent to subscribers’ cellphones if overall demand nears capacity, prodding households to turn down the air-conditioner or, better yet, turn it off altogether.

The forecasts, available since the start of the month on the Web sites of power companies and in the news media, show the amount of electricity currently being used in a utility’s service area, as well as the consumption for the same day last year.

In the Tokyo area, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, the operator of the Fukushima plant, issues a forecast in the evening for the next day, then refines the forecast the following morning depending on the changing weather. During the day, Tepco updates electricity use every five minutes, in a bar graph that predictably shows use rising steadily in the morning and peaking in the afternoon.

In the past week, forecasts and actual use have hovered around 75 percent of capacity, thanks to unseasonably cool weather brought on by a typhoon. Yukihiko Tayama, a Tepco manager specializing in demand and supply, said that so far this summer, overall demand had yet to come dangerously close to capacity, and so it was unclear whether the real-time reports would influence people’s behavior in a crunch. The real test lies ahead in August, Mr. Tayama said.

Local governments are holding contests soliciting conservation ideas; households are cutting back beyond the hours during which conservation is in effect, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and companies have shifted days off to weekdays and undertaken other measures not only to avoid penalties — maximum penalties are less than $13,000 — but also to contribute to the national effort.

At Meiwa Rubber, a manufacturer of printing equipment with factories in Tokyo, lights were dimmed, the use of hot water was restricted, and the air-conditioning was curtailed. An employee tracked the factory’s real-time power use, using software supplied by Tepco. If demand neared the company’s maximum use for the year before, orange lights flashed on the factory and management floors; if demand threatened to outstrip maximum use, red lights flashed, leading employees to shut down three air-conditioning units.

“The government’s figure is 15 percent, but we’re aiming to cut by 25 percent,” said Tatsuo Nakahara, 63, the company’s administrative manager. He added that in the months after the March disaster, the company had already succeeded in conserving 20 percent.

Offices here, already balmy by American standards, have been directed to set the room temperature to 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit, though the real temperature, especially on hot days, has climbed above 86 degrees in many offices.

“We’re doing this for Japan, so it can’t be helped,” said Jun Nakada, 36, a salaryman whose office lighting has been dimmed to two fluorescent tubes from eight.

Not cooperating is frowned upon. Some companies have forbidden employees to plug in desktop fans; in others with no such bans, doing so can be considered harmful to one’s career.

Weekly magazines are making sure there are no cheaters. Several have sent reporters armed with thermometers to the offices of those popularly considered responsible for the nuclear disaster, particularly the triumvirate of Tepco, nuclear regulators and pro-nuclear politicians, widely seen as collusive. The nuclear establishment was also enduring a sweaty summer, the weeklies reported with great satisfaction.

But perhaps the checks were hardly necessary given the power of social disapproval here.

Mitsuharu Taniyama, 73, the owner of a small insurance business, has directed his staff to dim the lights at their office on the second floor of a small building in Yokohama.

“As you can see, our office is surrounded by windows, so after dark people walking outside would notice if it was all lit up inside here,” Mr. Taniyama said. “Now I would feel guilty.”

Like some Japanese of his generation, Mr. Taniyama said the current national campaign reminded him of restrictions on the use of lights during World War II. To avoid becoming the targets of nighttime air raids by American warplanes, families huddled around a single light bulb while making sure that no light was visible from the outside.

Behind the current enthusiasm for conservation, Mr. Taniyama also saw a rethinking of postwar Japan’s single-minded focus on economic growth. Many, he believed, were ready to renounce nuclear power even if that meant “time travel to the lifestyle that Japan had when it lost the war to America.”

Conservation has made Tokyo, a city famous for its neon lights and giant television screens, a little dimmer this summer. It has caused the Japanese to forgo, for now, the energy-hungry gadgets and appliances that provide life here with particular pleasures.

Sakuko Saeki, 75, said she had not only switched off but also unplugged her household appliances. She barely turned on the air-conditioning, instead using a fan in her living room. But there was one appliance she could not give up after all: an automatic toilet, called a washlet, the kind that flushes by itself, raises and lowers the lid on its own, and never ceases to amaze foreigners visiting Japan for the first time.

“I’d turned off my washlet,” Ms. Saeki said, “but I stopped doing that.”


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