Heatwave in Japan and Labor Unrest in Peru
Japan: Heatwave Threatens Electricity Supply
Japanese officials have issued a warning to the public regarding possible power shortages amid a severe, ongoing heatwave. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) recently announced an early end to the summer rainy season that normally lasts from early June to mid-July as Tokyo recorded temperatures above 35°C (95°F) for five consecutive days, marking the worst hot weather streak in June documented in Japan since 1875. The city of Isesaki (located about 94 km/58 mi northwest of the capital) witnessed a record 40.2°C (104°F) – the highest temperature recorded in June for the country. According to emergency services, more than 340 people have been hospitalized with heatstroke since June 25. JMA forecasts show temperatures will remain above 30°C (86°F) until July 5, raising concerns of electricity shortages in the coming days. As a result, local and federal officials are urging citizens to reduce energy consumption, particularly in the early evening hours when demand typically peaks; however, they have also emphasized the need to responsibly cut consumption in order to prevent heatstroke and avoid overwhelming Japan’s medical infrastructure. While no prolonged business closures have been reported, some manufacturers announced plans to reduce production and close certain plants for at least two days a month from July until September. Convenience stores and other businesses have also implemented power-saving measures, such as dimming signboards and reducing the use of ventilation fans. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on June 28 that the government will use nuclear reactors to increase power supply, although the activation may take time due to strict safety standards implemented on nuclear plants across the country following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. While the impact of the heatwave on Japan’s power grid is being mitigated by both government measures and public cooperation, isolated power outages cannot be ruled out in the short term. The full extent of the economic impact remains unclear, although excessive heat will likely affect the quality of rice, vegetable, and fruit yields and could lead to a spike in prices in the short-to-medium term.
Peru: Farmers and Truckers Strike Amid Surging Commodity Prices
Peruvian farmers, truckers, and other transportation workers launched an indefinite, nationwide labor strike on June 27 in response to surging fuel and fertilizer prices, prompting the government to declare a 30-day state of emergency amid travel and supply chain disruptions. Representatives of the National Union of Heavy Load Carriers approved the strike on June 26 following failed negotiations with the government over the union’s key demands: the declaration of freight transport as a public service, decreased fuel prices, and toll regulations. In addition to the work stoppage, transporters and agrarian protesters used carriers and heavy-load buses to block access to important bridges and trade routes in the provinces of Arequipa, Cajamarca, and Mariscal Cáceres. The strike has also impacted the operation of many transportation services in Peru, including several large bus companies, PeruRail, and 60% of the country’s heavy load carriers. The steep reduction of these services, combined with the effects of the roadblocks, has cost the country’s economy an estimated USD 20 million per day since the strike’s inception. Supermarkets are not receiving shipments of grocery items, resulting in food shortages and price increases; on June 27 alone, produce costs in Lima’s wholesale markets rose by up to 71%. The government has acted swiftly to mitigate the effects of the protests, using the state of emergency to criminalize protest activities accompanied by roadblocks and deploying approximately 130,000 police officers to enforce order and limit traffic congestion. Representatives of various transport unions and the Peruvian government renewed their negotiations on the evening of June 27, during which the government vowed to stabilize diesel prices, increase investment in the transportation sector, and provide subsidies to cover toll charges. While strike actions were suspended in Lima and Callao on June 28, the work stoppage and route obstructions have persisted in other parts of the country. In addition to Peru, where protests over economic hardship began in March, rising commodity prices have sparked civil unrest in countries across the globe, including in Latin America, Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the inability of many governments to adapt to fluctuations in global markets, indicate that protest activity is likely to persist in Peru and elsewhere in the short-to-medium term.