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Japanese PM asks ruling party to study daylight saving time

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

TOKYO (kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday ordered his ruling party to study whether to introduce daylight saving time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as a way to deal with Japan's intense summer heat.

Following a meeting with Abe, Yoshiro Mori, head of the games' Tokyo organizing committee, revealed Abe wants the Liberal Democratic Party to start collecting opinions, given that the public and the business community are divided over the idea of moving clocks forward.

Mori quoted Abe as saying that the government and the LDP have to "carefully determine" if the new time system is seriously needed as it would have a huge impact on people's lives.

The organizing committee is in favor of using the system and Mori, a former prime minister, requested Abe late last month to adopt it as Japan has seen unusually high temperatures this summer.

Mori told reporters that, not just for the Tokyo Olympics, the energy-saving measure is important for the Japanese government's commitment to protecting the global environment.

A plan has been floated among Olympic officials to move clocks two hours forward.

Japan, which has not used such a system for nearly 60 years, is struggling to find effective measures to mitigate the physical impact on athletes and spectators from expected scorching heat during the Olympics, which will be held from July 24 to Aug. 9.

Toshiaki Endo, the committee's vice president and an LDP lawmaker, who also took part in the meeting, told reporters that there is not so much time and Japanese lawmakers should decide on the introduction of the system during an extraordinary Diet session expected to be convened this autumn.

Endo said he wants to start discussions within the ruling party before mid-August, while noting that Japan is among a handful of major industrialized countries that does not have daylight saving time during the summer.

But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga maintained a cautious stance, saying in a press conference shortly after the meeting that it was one of the proposed countermeasures to overcome the heat.

The top government spokesman also said it would greatly affect people's lives.

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