Photo/Illutration The lights on shelves are dimmed at a Summit supermarket in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward on June 27. (Hideaki Sato)

Stores and companies have started conserving energy amid mounting concerns of power shortages as a heat wave bakes the nation.

The central government on June 27 issued a caution to conserve energy in areas that Tokyo Electric Power Co. serves. 

Major electronic manufacturers have already encouraged employees to work from home and shutting off the lights at their offices has become standard procedure. 

That leaves little room for further power saving.

“To be honest, trying to conserve electricity is difficult,” said an employee of an electronic manufacturer.

The employee questioned the government’s request to save energy.

“It will probably have a limited effect because it has no teeth,” the employee said.

A department store in Tokyo reviewed the lighting and temperature settings inside the store.

“I don’t know how much our customers can tolerate (measures such as) reduced lighting,” said one related person. “As for the temperature settings for the air conditioning, we think of our customers’ health first.”

Summit Inc., a company that operates the Summit supermarket chain, lowered its lightings at the shelves for chilled and frozen food products at all 120 stores in the areas around Tokyo on the afternoon of the day.

The last time the company took such measures was following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The stores also shut off the power for cooling non-perishable beverages after the stores close.

They were expected to turn on the power before the stores open the following day. 

Ito-Yokado Co., a company that operates Ito Yokado shopping centers, planned to implement full-scale measures to conserve energy starting from July 1.

However, the company moved up the timetable at 98 stores in Tokyo and eight prefectures in the areas Tokyo Electric Power Co. serves. It displayed a poster informing customers that the store has adjusted the lighting and air conditioning systems.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. asked about 8,800 franchise stores in Tokyo and eight prefectures to conserve energy by shutting off the fryers or using it in energy-saving mode.

The stores were also asked to open and close refrigerators to restock beverages as little as possible, to use only one electric pot for hot water and to shut off the toilet seat heating function in the bathrooms.

Lawson Inc. dimmed the lights at its headquarters in Tokyo between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. that day.

The company also asked employees to operate their computers on battery power.

“We are happy to do anything we can to help, however small,” said a Lawson representative.

The company also asked franchise stores to thoroughly implement existing energy-conserving measures, such as reviewing the air conditioning system settings and turning off the lights in warehouses.

FamilyMart Co. asked franchise stores to lower the lights by about 60 percent and shut off the sign lights for ATMs. 

Real estate companies that own many office buildings in the Tokyo metropolitan area dimmed lights and lowered the number of elevators in operation that day.

One of them, Mori Building Co., decided to suspend lighting up the walls of Roppongi Hills.

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) and other railway companies took measures on the day, such as stopping escalators during off-peak times and lowering the number of working electronic message boards and ticketing machines.

NTT Docomo temporarily turned on a private electric generator at locations in Tokyo that monitor communications nationwide.

SB Power Corp., a company under SoftBank Group Corp., temporarily increased the points that users receive for conserving energy.

(This article was written by Hideaki Sato, Go Takahashi and Yoko Masuda.)