Photo/Illutration Industry minister Koichi Hagiuda speaks at a news conference after the meeting of Cabinet ministers on the potential electricity shortage on June 7. (Takumi Wakai)

The government is warning the public to prepare for possible electricity shortages this summer and winter and to start cutting back on electricity use. 

“The government will not set a uniform numerical target to save electricity this summer, but we will ask people to cooperate in saving electricity and energy as much as possible,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said after a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers on June 7 on possible shortages. 

Those attending the meeting decided the government will encourage the use of thermal power plants that have been suspended, while calling on the public to save electricity.

Japan is struggling to secure enough electricity after a series of aging thermal power plants were suspended or shut down. 

The meeting’s members also decided the government will call for electricity generators to be thorough in inspecting thermal power plants to prevent their unexpected suspensions.

For families and companies, the government will disseminate information on how they can save electricity while preventing heatstroke.

It was also decided at the meeting that the government will create a system to contact businesses and local authorities in the event of an energy emergency to ask them to save electricity.

The electricity reserve rate, or what percentage of electricity is unused, is estimated to be 3.1 percent in the Tohoku region, Tokyo and the Chubu region in July.

This is just above 3 percent, or the minimum needed to ensure a stable supply of electricity.

The rate is expected to drop to below 0 percent in Tokyo in January and February next year.

The last time the government held a meeting for this purpose was in 2017.