One cannot believe that anything unreasonable should be allowed to take effect simply because of the Olympic Games.

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has called on the government to introduce daylight saving time during the 2020 events.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his Cabinet would consider the proposal and ordered the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to discuss the matter.

Organizing committee officials said they hope the practice of moving clocks forward during the summer will go down as a legacy of the Olympic Games toward the goal of developing a low-carbon society. That certainly sounds nice, but the organizing committee has given no logical account of whether the means would serve the objective and how large the costs and the side effects would be.

Rescheduling the competition hours would suffice if the goal were to beat the heat during the Tokyo Olympics. We are only left flabbergasted at the sheer sloppiness of the proposal.

Information communication devices represent key infrastructure in contemporary society. A succession of questions arises: how much modification work would be required for tweaking “time,” a core component of various systems? Would it be possible to do the work perfectly in only two years to go before the Games? How much would it all cost, and who would be paying for it?

The wisdom of introducing daylight saving time has been discussed many times to date. Various problems have been pointed out, though, and the arrangement has yet to be implemented.

Organizing committee officials apparently hope to have their proposal deliberated during an extraordinary Diet session this autumn, but their drive to push their plan is not acceptable.

Daylight saving time is a setup for ensuring effective use of summer daylight in nations at high latitudes. Studies of recent years have shown, however, that the arrangement is affecting people’s sleep and health more severely than previously thought when a transition is made between wintertime and summertime.

The Japanese Society of Sleep Research has also warned that daylight saving time could lead to further reduction of the sleeping hours of the Japanese, which are already short, and a spread of health disorders.

How helpful would the setup be, then, in developing a “low-carbon society”?

The European Union is calling for public comments within its territory on possible changes to the current summertime arrangements. In so doing, EU officials are noting the energy savings effect is “marginal” and depends on “factors such as geographical location.”

When a plan to introduce daylight saving time was floated in Japan about a decade ago, a tentative calculation showed it would reduce household illumination demand and other energy needs, but the estimated savings effect was a tiny fraction of the total carbon emissions.

It should be evaluated once more, with account taken of societal and technological changes, whether the advantages would be more than enough to make up for disadvantages on other fronts.

The cost forecast for organizing the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games has already surpassed the initial estimate. A decision has also been made to shift national holidays just for 2020 to cope with the Games. Other issues cited by the organizing committee include how to ensure there will be enough volunteers and how to suppress traffic congestion.

There is certainly a need to devise ways to operate the Games without confusion. But the underlying thinking should not be one that postulates that people can be handled at will if only an order is given.

The “legacy” of the Games would not come off unscathed if officials were to fall into the habit of wielding the golden authority and taking any impact on people’s daily lives for granted.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 12