Kaieda mulls adding more Tokyo wards to Tepco rolling blackouts

Kyodo News

Industry minister Banri Kaieda said Wednesday he is considering increasing the number of wards in Tokyo subject to the ongoing rolling blackouts implemented in the capital and nearby prefectures to correct what he called the “unfairness” of the current program.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. started outages in its service areas from March 14 to deal with power shortages after two of its nuclear plants in Tohoku were shut down by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

However, many Tokyo wards have been unaffected by the rolling blackouts so far.

“It’s not about including all of the 23 wards, but what I have in mind now is what can I do regarding so-called residential areas in the 23 wards,” Kaieda said.

Tepco is expected to continue to exclude Chuo, Chiyoda and Minato wards, home to central government offices and the headquarters of many companies, even if the outage program is expanded.

The unprecedented measure, expected to last at least through April, has drawn complaints from business leaders who feel that the current power rationing is causing production difficulties for manufacturers.