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'Not business as usual' as Japan strives for normality

By Dean Irvine, CNN
Commuters wait on a Tokyo subway platform on Monday. Services were only running at about 20 percent.
Commuters wait on a Tokyo subway platform on Monday. Services were only running at about 20 percent.
  • Tokyo prepares for power cuts as much of country faces power shortfall
  • Rail services severely disrupted; government urges only essential travel
  • Big manufacturers like Honda and Toyota suspend work at factories

(CNN) -- Tokyo and other parts of Japan faced blackouts on Monday as the country tried to return to work and a sense of normality.

"It's definitely not business as usual," said Tokyo resident Mia Moore. The office of her law firm was open, but employees were told that turning up was optional.

"It didn't really feel safe going to an empty office," she said, citing the on-going tremors that continue to rattle the city every few hours.

"People want to stay with their families at this time to recover really. It's quite exhausting feeling so nervous all the time. I think people want to get back to normality as soon as they can."

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Some shops were open, but food supplies, like bread and instant noodles, as well as bottled water were scarce, she said.

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"We're used to tremors in Tokyo but these aftershocks are big," said Simon Lockett, another Tokyo resident. "We've had shocks that measure more than magnitude 6."

He said residents were already braced for shortages.

"In Tokyo, there's no bread, no water on the shelves," he said.

With the imperiled Fukushima nuclear plant offline, rotating power cuts were not ruled out for parts of Tokyo to ease the burden on a stretched power service.

Tokyo Electric Power said it was expecting a shortfall of around 25 percent capacity. Regions in the north and east of Tokyo were also considering blackouts.

The first blackout was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. local time, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

The Japanese government urged people on Monday to save energy by only making essential journeys.

With the threat of sporadic power supplies and damage from the quake, the country's rail network is also struggling to resume services.

East Japan Railway, Japan's biggest rail company that connects Tokyo with the areas hardest hit by the quake and tsunami, has cancelled all of its high-speed Shinkansen trains.

In Tokyo many of the subway and commuter lines were running limited services.

As power cuts could affect water supplies, Tokyo residents were told by local authorities to prepare by filling up bathtubs and keeping a supply of boiled water.

Elsewhere in the country major manufacturers have closed many of their plants, some for compassionate reasons, others due to damage from Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake. Some companies had shut down operations in anticipation of the power cuts.

The country's three largest car makers -- Nissan, Honda and Toyota -- suspended production at most of their facilities, with Toyota announcing it would not resume manufacturing at any of its Japan-based facilities until after Wednesday.

There was one fatality at a Honda facility 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Tokyo after the earthquake hit on Friday and the company said the plant had also sustained damage. Electronics company Sony announced that the company has taken the decision to shut off power at all of its facilities on Monday.

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