Store shelves empty in Tokyo after tsunami
Commuters and residents of the Japanese capital faced confusion and
uncertainty over the supply of food and energy after Friday's
devastating quake and tsunami which crippled a nuclear power plant.
Some store shelves were emptied and many train lines were shut down
as Tokyo commuters returned to work after a weekend glued to horrific
images of the extensive damage about 240 kilometres to the north.
In the largely residential Nerima district of Tokyo, staples like
rice, bread and instant noodles were sold out. Lights were kept off on
the produce shelves and meat refrigeration units to conserve
"About 40 to 50 people were lined up outside when we opened at 10. A
day's worth of food sold out in an hour. We had a second shipment
delivered at midday and that sold out in an hour too," said Toshiro
Imai, a store manager in Tokyo.
"Part of the factory of one of our suppliers is damaged so stock is limited."
Tsutomu Yamane, a manager of a branch at the Tokyo metropolitan
government that oversees retailers, said officials were trying to assess
the situation. "A food shortage is difficult to handle from an
administrative view," he said. "But what we can do is try and prevent
retailers from cornering the market or hoarding goods (to raise
Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Sunday called this Japan's worst crisis
since World War II, and the mood has also been darkened by news reports
quoting experts as saying there is a 70 percent chance of another
damaging tremor by Wednesday.
More than 100 commuter train lines in the Tokyo area were scheduled to be partially or completely closed on Monday.
Several calls to East Japan Railways Co, the largest train operator
in the country, went unanswered due to high call volume, according to a
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) began a rolling blackout on Monday in
Tokyo and surrounding cities to conserve energy amid the crisis at
nuclear power plants in the earthquake-affected areas.