Section 5. Repeated Difficulties and Trials
Item 1. The Great East Japan Earthquake
Holiday Shift Implemented
Restrictions on electric power supplies were imposed because of the shutdown of nuclear power plants following the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant and other factors. The government implemented an electricity usage restriction order that cut maximum power consumption by large-scale plants and offices in Tokyo Electric Power Company and Tohoku Electric Power Company service areas by 15% compared to the previous summer from July to mid-September. It was the first time for such an order to be enforced in 37 years, the previous time being during the first oil crisis in 1974.
In response, the automobile industry took the initiative by shifting its regular days off from Saturday and Sunday to Thursday and Friday for the three months from July to September to equalize power consumption by manufacturing industries and avoid disorder caused by unexpected power outages. Automakers with plants outside the regions covered by the order also implemented the shift in consideration of the impact on the parts and materials industries.
The shift in days off imposed major burdens on automaker employees and their families, because of different days off within households and the need to make new daycare arrangements and so on, as well as on the many parts and materials companies that also participated in the program. On Sundays in July, President Toyoda and Mitsuyuki Tsuruoka, head of the Toyota Motor Workers' Union, visited each plant that was operating to encourage workers and remind them to pay full attention to their health and safety.