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Pachinko parlors face energy crunch in Hokkaido

The approximately 430 pachinko parlors in Hokkaido, like all other businesses and households in the earthquake-hit prefecture, are facing government demands to immediately reduce their consumption of electricity by at least 20 percent, forcing many to turn off their characteristic neon signs and elaborate internal lighting.

Last week’s Hokkaido Earthquake created a blackout in every part of the island for about a day or so, meaning that all pachinko parlors had to suspend business for a while. Even though most parlors now have their electricity running again, local energy production is barely meeting demand, and rolling blackouts remain a possibility.

The fundamental problem is the serious damage that the earthquake inflicted on the Hokkaido Electric Power Company’s Tomato-Atsuma Thermal Power Plant, which plays a key role in providing electricity to the entire island. Government authorities announced on Tuesday that it would likely be some time in November before the plant was completely repaired.

The prospect, therefore, is that the Hokkaido energy crunch may last for a couple of months, dimming the lights of the local pachinko industry.


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