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Japan gets graphic to save energy

  • Japan has unofficial summer policy of 'setsuden' -- energy saving
  • This year has extra significance with power capacity reduced post-Fukushima nuclear crisis
  • Japanese graphic designers have produced posters to encourage public energy efficiency

(CNN) -- For years Japan has embraced "setsuden" --"saving electricity" -- during the country's hot summer months.

Among other measures, businessmen and women are encouraged to wear casual summer clothing in the office and to turn the thermostat up on the air conditioning by a few degrees.

But this year the concept has been given a new significance as the nuclear crisis in Fukushima has restricted the country's energy supplies and brought "teiden taisaku" ("blackout countermeasures") into the mix.

Starting this month the Japan government has called for a 15% cut in electricity use in Tokyo and the Tohoku region to avoid blackouts and power shortages. Japanese Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto last month said that the reduction would not be a temporary measure, but an event to change people's lifestyles.

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To complement the official "setsuden" advice, Japan's graphic designers have been engaging in some traditional means to help encourage citizens do their part -- providing public information posters.

Every day public TV in Japan encourages people to save energy, says Tokyo resident Koichi Yamamoto, who set up a blog for the posters.

Yamamoto has been documenting where the posters have been appearing across Tokyo, from convenience stores to around the Tsukiji Honganji temple, and he says, the response to energy saving requests can be seen across the city.

"Lights are turned off in vending machines and many station escalators are only working half of the time," says Yamamoto.

If traditional means of raising public opinion are on the rise, so too are traditional ways to combat summer heat, says Yamamoto. "In private many people are stopping to use air-conditioning and started using 'uchiwa' -- a round paper fan," he says.

On a larger scale businesses have adopted their own energy saving methods.

According to the Wall Street Journal, from Wednesday the Casio Computer Company will change weekends for employees to Sundays and Wednesdays to help easy the power load on the electricity grid during the working week.

Hitachi and Kyocera are growing green curtains of plants to cover factory walls and encouraging their employees to do the same, according to Bloomberg.