Tokyo’s highest official is casting doubt on government plans to institute daylight saving time in 2019 and 2020 to help manage the scorching heat during the Summer Olympics.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Monday that she was concerned about the expense and disruption of moving clocks forward by two hours during summer months for two years only. Koike said that she also has heard worries expressed about the difficulty of introducing the measure in time for the Tokyo Games.
“A lot of people are concerned about the cost and social instability caused by having it for just two years,” she said in an interview at her office, adding that she wasn’t opposed to a more permanent move. “Separately from the Olympics and Paralympics, I think it is worth considering.”
While the city’s Olympic bid documents cited the region’s relatively “mild” summers, this year’s record-high temperatures have sparked concerns about the safety of competitors and spectators in 2020. More than 80,000 people have been sent to hospital with heatstroke this year, an 82 percent increase from last year. Some 144 have died, many of them elderly.
That has prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to consider moving the country’s clocks forward for the next two summers, enabling more outdoor events to take place in the relatively cool morning hours, the Sankei newspaper reported earlier this month. Daylight saving was previously introduced in Japan under the postwar U.S. occupation, but quickly abandoned.
Some 53 percent of adults oppose instituting daylight saving time, according to a survey released Monday by the ANN news network, compared with 36 percent who approve of the idea.
Koike, who was once a member of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, founded a new party last year in an unsuccessful bid to oust him in a general election. She later stepped down as head of the group. Asked about the LDP leadership election next month, in which Abe is expected to win a third consecutive term, Koike said that it was a matter for the party to decide.