This morning, my Twitter time line was filled with a rumor that Google Japan is fleeing Tokyo and moving to Osaka. It turned out to be a false rumor, but they say it is true that some employees are temporarily moved to the Western part of Japan. That is credible, as I am hearing similar reports from my friends in Japanese tech industry, and it is NOT because of the fear of radiation, but is because of power shortage.
According to Nikkei Newspaper 3/19, TEPCO, the power utility in Tokyo and its vicinity, is trying very hard to recover its generator capacity but the output is still expected to remain much lower than demand.
Here's the math.
TEPCO's capacity before the quake: 63 mil. kw
-> Current capacity after the quake: 34 mil. kw
-> Expected capacity as of End April: 42 mil. kw
- Fukushima Nuke Plant capacity: 9 mil. kw -> no hope to recover
- Higashi-Ogishima power plant (Kawasaki, Kanagawa): 2 mil. kw -> expected to recover by end April
- Kashima power plant (Kashima, Igaragi): 4 mil. kw -> expected to recover by end April
- Hirono power plant (Hirono, Fukushima) and Hitachinaka (Tokai, Ibaragi) -> will take longer to recover
(TEPCO is planning to increase the operation in other working power plants as well.)
Normal demand in winter: 50 mil. kw
Normal demand in summer: 60 mil. kw
This is why rolling blackout is in place right now. 23 wards in Tokyo, the city center, are not currently included in rolling blackout plan, but majority of people are commuting from suburbs. Trains do not run as scheduled, no elevators run in high-rise, and even in unaffected area, businesses are restraining by turning off neon signs, dimming lights and shortening factory operations.
I am hearing that data centers in Eastern Japan are largely unaffected and are running perfectly fine. Howerver, due to this power shortage situation, employees are having hard time to come to work and their productivity is low.
Some people are also saying that it is for the "national cause" to diversify the industry locations to avoid power crisis in Tokyo. Unlike physical factories, IT workers are relatively flexible in terms of work locations. Local governments in Western Japan are gearing up to accommodate such demand. Not just Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, but also Kyoto has a nice cluster of tech companies, as well as Fukuoka. It may be actually a good chance to crack the problem of too much concentration in Tokyo, IMHO.