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Blackouts, power disruptions change how business works in Tokyo

An interior view of a convenience store almost empty of goods in Tokyo, Japan.

JEREMY HOBSON: As efforts continue to cool the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan there are reports of radiation levels 10 times the norm in Tokyo. Toyota said this morning it will keep its 12 auto plants in Japan shut down until at least next week. The Japanese stock market has rebounded somewhat today after fresh government support. And in Tokyo life goes on -- sort of.

Yuuchiro Nakajima is an investment banker in the city's financial district. He joins us now. Hello.

YUUCHIRO NAKAJIMA: Hello.

HOBSON: Describe the city for us right now. Is it normal? Are people still going to their offices?

NAKAJIMA: Well, the city of Tokyo is subject to power rationing, that's affected the trains service and other forms of public transport. So, it is far from normal. People are having to spend much longer time to get into the office. Some firms have actually told staff to stay at home. Indeed, some other companies have started sending their ex-pats out of Japan. So it is by no means a normal situation.

HOBSON: But that's mostly, you're saying, because of the electricity situation and not because people are scared to go outside?

NAKAJIMA: I don't think we've got to that stage. I think certainly people are worried about what's going on in Fukushima with the nuclear power plants. But there is no sense that an explosion is imminent or indeed that nuclear or radioactive materials floating down on Tokyo from Fukushima which is several hundred kilometers away. You know, OK, there's always going to be some people who think like that, but most of the people, particularly those who have office work to do -- no I don't think they are subscribing to that line of thinking.

HOBSON: What about buying things like food and water. I've seen pictures of empty shelves at the stores. Are you able to get things that you need?

NAKAJIMA: Well, it has been a little bit difficult to secure supplies of certain items. Around where I live it's been toilet paper, dairy products, instant food. But the government -- as you may have noticed -- the government has called on people not to engage in such hording behavior. And I think slowly that problem is being resolved. Certainly where I am, but I couldn't speak for the entire area of Tokyo.

HOBSON: Yuuchiro Nakajima, an investment banker joining us from Tokyo. Thanks for very much, sir.

NAKAJIMA: Thank you.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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