Tokyo, August 7: The organisers of Tokyo 2020 Olympics appealed to Japan to introduce daylight saving time to reduce the effect of the extreme summer heat on athletes and spectators.
At least 120 people died during the scorching heat this summer, and with the 2020 Games to be held in late July and early August, Japan's hottest, most humid months, there are fears athletes, particularly those competing in morning events, could be at risk.
Against this backdrop, Yoshiro Mori, the former prime minister and chief organisier of Tokyo 2020 met current Japanese premier Shinzo Abe to call on him to consider implementing daylight savings time amid concerns about athlete safety during the Games.
"I told him (Abe) that daylight savings is necessary not only for the Olympics, but it is also important from an international perspective in order to protect earth's current environment," Mori said after the meeting at the prime minister's office.
"I also told him that internationally Japan should be a pioneer and the government should be move forward on this issue.
"And the prime minister responded 'Indeed.'"
BBC News - Tokyo 2020 Olympics:— koichi kondo (@koichi_k) August 7, 2018
Japan debates daylight saving to avoid extreme heat
The trouble with daylight saving time is Japan's traditional long hours of working.
After the war Japan tried introducing it in vain.
Don't forget the past experience.https://t.co/gA8ZuoFaYY
Japanese media reported that Abe had agreed to look into the proposal.
Mori's comments comes as an opinion poll published by national broadcaster NHK showed 51 per cent of respondents were in favour of switching to daylight savings time, with only 12 per cent against.
In its report, the Sankei Shimbun, citing several sources, said the government was considering bringing clocks forward by two hours between June and August next year on a trial basis, to iron out any problems with the change, ahead of a similar implementation during the Olympics.
Japan is among a handful of major economies that does not use daylight saving time during the summer, including South Korea - which set clocks back an hour in 1987 and 1988, when it hosted the Summer Olympics in Seoul.
Japan adopted daylight saving time in 1948 under US occupation after defeat in World War II but scrapped it four years later amid concerns it was encouraging longer work hours.
The idea has won favour from some in business and politics as a way to allow the famously hard-working Japanese to enjoy longer summer evenings with their families.
But critics say extending daylight hours risks people staying in the office longer, hindering official efforts to clamp down on overtime.
In Tokyo, the sun sets at around 7pm, even at the height of summer.
(With inputs from Agencies)