Rolling blackouts scheduled for nine prefectures

Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced Sunday that he has approved temporary power outages to prevent a massive blackout in the wake of Friday’s deadly earthquake that struck northern Japan.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the rolling blackouts, the first ever in Japan, will happen between 6:20 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday. The prefectures affected are Tokyo, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Yamanashi and the eastern half of Shizuoka.

Kan appealed to the public for cooperation.

"If we continue (using electricity at the current level), there is the possibility of an all-out blackout in the area," Kan said. "The impact of a sudden, large-scale blackout would be immense and we must prevent it at all costs."

According to Tepco, the nine prefectures affected will each be divided into five areas. Each district will have the power cut off for about three hours at a time. Companies as well as households will be subject to the blackouts.

Kan acknowledged the blackouts would affect people in many ways and urged the public to be prepared.

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