Japanese are prepping for natural disasters by stocking up on hand-cranked radios, batteries and old tech

Shops are running out of stock and manufacturers are trying to ramp up production to respond to surging interest

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 11:04am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 10:00pm

Old-fashioned electronics, such as hand-cranked radios and battery operated lights, are making a comeback in Japan as more people become sensitive to the impact of natural disasters on their lives after heavy downpours and earthquakes hit the country.

Shops are running out of stock and electronic manufacturers are trying to ramp up production to respond to surging interest for appliances that do not depend on power points.

“Our production cannot keep up with the demand because of a large amount of orders. Please be patient,” said a Sony company statement on September 19 about hand-cranked portable radios retailing between 9,200 yen (US$81) and 10,300 yen.

The handy radio, a key information gathering tool in disasters, can charge smartphones and function as a flashlight with light-emitting diodes.

Inquiries about the product have surged after the devastating September 6 earthquake on Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido, which triggered a prefecture-wide blackout.

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Toshiba, meanwhile, is responding to this new wave of demand with LED-fitted radios.

September sales for its small radios have more than doubled from a year earlier. They have proved so popular in and around Tokyo that the company decided to increase their production after stocks ran out for some items.

Demand for batteries and battery-operated goods peaked after torrential rains that hit western Japan in July caused massive damage. Sales have soared for Panasonic’s “Tama (Bulb) Lantern”, which sells for between 2,200 yen to 3,200 yen.

Originally sold as an interior decoration or a night light, consumers are buying them because they are portable and can emit light for 40 days straight.

Toshiba Lifestyle’s September sales of batteries increased 25 per cent from a year earlier as more people are keeping them in reserve for an eventual disaster.

Panasonic is responding to the increased customer demand for batteries by providing air delivery in some parts of Japan.