Phone-charging stations set for Tokyo tourist spots


Staff Writer

Running out of battery power on your smartphone in Tokyo? Don’t panic, soon you will be able to access a number of free recharging stations at popular sightseeing spots across the metropolis.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced this week that the first solar-powered battery charging stations will be rolled out as soon as October, starting with tourist mecca Tokyo Tower and the Toranomon Hills business complex.

A joint project with electronics firm Sharp Corp., which manufactures the charging stations, the two City Charge sites are compatible with all mobile devices.

“These days, phone batteries last quite a long time, but when they do run out while you are outside it is a hassle,” Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said. “But if you go to these charging stations, you can get them charged for free.”

Although solar-powered, the stations allow users to charge their phones “as fast as charging at regular, home-based power outlets,” said Masayoshi Kojima, of the Tokyo Environmental Public Service Corporation.

He said the charging stations are ideal for people who want to stop and charge their phones for 10-20 minutes.

They can also be used at night and in bad weather. Charging stations also are equipped with a LED light at the top of the stand to function as street lights at night.

To make it easily identifiable for Japanese and non-Japanese speakers, each station will have a pictogram of a smartphone surrounded by a white line, which represents a charging cable.

The City Charge stations are built to withstand massive earthquakes, and can function as an emergency power source in times of disaster, Kojima said.

Tokyo will use the first two stations as test sites to gauge demand before deciding on whether to introduce the stations at other popular tourist areas, Kojima said.

Solar-powered charging stations are already available in other cities, including New York and Dubai, but this is the first attempt in Japan to start such services, Masuzoe said.

City Charge is part of Tokyo’s efforts that started in fiscal 2012 to create a “smart energy city” by introducing low-carbon, disaster-resistant solutions to realize a sustainable society.