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Millions in Japan struggle without electricity, heat – Blackouts to Continue

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) is carrying out rolling blackouts in its service areas Wednesday morning, excluding Shizuoka Prefecture, which was jolted by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake Tuesday night.

The quake registered upper 6 on the 1-7 Japanese seismic intensity scale.

Railway companies have resumed services as they are given priority supplies of electricity. Service for some main lines in the greater Tokyo area is back to normal, easing congestion.

Meanwhile, Tohoku Electric Power Co. (9506) put off a power outage scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m., as it was able to draw more power from hydroelectric plants.

BACKSTORY:

When Japan lost a large chunk of its electricity-generating capacity to the one-two punch of earthquake and tsunami, the narrative in parts of one of the world’s most technologically advanced societies was transformed overnight into one of Third World hardship.

For most Japanese, the rolling outages instituted in the wake of the twin disasters translate to inconvenience, sacrifice and economic loss. But for tens of thousands who are now homeless and huddled in evacuation centers in the hard-hit northeast, the stakes are much higher.

"In known evacuation centers, people who reached actual evacuation centers, you have a half million Japanese displaced. They don’t have water, they don’t have electricity, they don’t have oil," said Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "And the temperatures are… dipping below freezing because it’s snowing in most of those regions. So there’s an acute humanitarian crisis today in Japan.”

Read the rest of the story: Millions in Japan struggle without electricity, heat.