The state of Japan's power grid

Japan’s electrical capacity is third in the world behind the United States and China, but damage and precautionary shutdowns from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami are straining its ability to meet demand. The Tokyo Electric Power Co., which provides more than a quarter of Japan’s power, is generating about 75 percent of its peak weekday demand.

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power grid

The power grid

Japan’s power grid connects all four islands. If one area is heavily damaged, plants in other areas can provide backup. Japan is not connected to nearby China or South Korea, so those countries cannot help with the power shortage.

The situation as of Monday

More than one million households were without power, mostly in the northeast. Rolling blackouts are being considered in some areas.

Areas except central Tokyo have had or are scheduled for rolling blackouts.

Large power plants


Red = Power plants that were
completely or partially shut down

At least four stations were sending backup power into the areas
surrounding Tokyo.

Where the power comes from

energy sources

Electricity in Japan is supplied by 1,800 power plants using four main generating methods. Several major nuclear and thermal plants were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

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SOURCES: International Atomic Energy Agency, World Nuclear Association, Peter Meisen of the Global Energy Network Institute, NHK, Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, Nomura Global Economics, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, U.S. Energy Information Administration

GRAPHIC: Bonnie Berkowitz, Gene Thorp and Kat Downs - The Washington Post. Published March 15, 2011.

Japan's nuclear emergency

Damage at nuclear plants made leaking radiation the primary threat facing a country just beginning to grasp the scale of devastation from the earthquake and tsunami.

Map: A wave of destruction

See how the powerful tsunami barreled across the Pacific.

Recent quakes in Japan

Japan is one of the most active seismic areas in the world. More than a thousand earthquakes of 4.0 magnitude or greater have struck in and around the country since 2009.