Some companies in Japan are literally springing forward as they lay out plans to cope with the government’s target of cutting energy use by 25% this summer, in a departure from the country’s long-held aversion to daylight savings time. But in the absence of an enforceable nationwide policy to formally move Japan’s clock forward an hour, the selective adoption will likely produce spotty results if a failed attempt in Hokkaido is any indication.
Sony Corp. said Thursday it is considering implementing an internal daylight saving time system among other measures to slash power consumption and technology giant Toshiba Corp. is also toying with the idea, to a lesser extent. Some have already switched: Morinaga Milk Industry Co. said last week it introduced daylight saving time in two Tokyo offices, shifting working time to start an one hour earlier than normal, according to the Nikkei business daily.
But Japan has for decades sniffed at formally adopting the daylight saving system used in the U.S. and much of Europe. Naysayers argue the energy-conservation impact would be limited, computer systems would be disrupted and workers, famous for putting in long hours, would be compelled to work overtime without extra compensation.
Daylight saving was briefly in play from 1948 to 1952 when Japan was occupied by the Allied Forces following World War II, but was quickly thrown out once Japan became independent again. In 2008, a group of lawmakers advocated a switch to “summer time” in Japan, but never rallied enough support for serious consideration. The lawmakers at the time estimated summer time could save about 900,000 kiloliters of crude oil a year, according to the Nikkei.