Now I’ve heard everything. Talk about your “Kyoto protocol”. The original source of this silliness comes from the city of Kyoto. In June, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gases and perhaps become a nationally designated “model environmental city,” the municipal government indicated it would request convenience stores to “voluntarily refrain” from staying open all night.
You can read the complete story here in Japan Today. The worst part about this is the complete lack of understanding about where the major energy use is. Closing the store may result in some energy savings from lighting, but the main power use, refrigeration systems, and that Slushee machine, will still operate.
No more midnight Slushee! Maybe the real reason is the “exploitation of the polar bear” on the cup.
Here is more, a response from the Japan Franchise Association
Facing attack from critics that want convenience stores to shut down at night as a measure to prevent global warming, the Japan Franchise Association has responded by stating that convenience stores play a crucial role as safe havens for lost children and victims of crime:
More than 13,000 cases of women finding refuge in convenience stores across the country were reported during fiscal 2007. Nearly half of them occurred after 11 p.m. and about 40 percent were due to stalkers and molesters, the association said.
In addition, there were 6,000 cases of lost children requiring assistance and 12,000 cases of elderly people found wandering the streets alone.
The 12 companies that comprise the JFA operate around 42,000 convenience stores.
Explaining the significance of convenience stores, a JFA official said they provide a “substitute for ‘koban’ (police boxes) and streetlights in the middle of the night.”
The National Police Agency says that koban and “hashutsujo” police branch offices are located at about 13,000 places across the country, but that number is down by around 1,000 from five years earlier.
In addition, the JFA has also stated that convenience stores with limited nighttime hours would still have to keep on their refrigeration systems when closed, so the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be negligible.
From the Japan Times article:
Behind moves to limit 24-hour business is concern about the environmental impact of round-the-clock operations. “Definitely, 24-hour operations eat up electricity,” he said.
Although acknowledging that some people are active late at night, for example because of their jobs, Ando went on to claim “the vast majority have standard lifestyles and get up in the morning and come home from school or work and sleep at night.”
“With no time left to waste to combat global warming, we are very concerned about whether it is really good (that stores) stay lit up even past midnight,” Ando said.