What Asia needs (part 926): daylight savings time

When we moved to a rented house in Tokyo in early springtime back in the 1980s, I wondered what the big metal shutters on the windows were for. Typhoons? Riots, because of foreigners in the neighborhood? By the middle of May, I began to see their logic. The days get longer in the summertime here just like they do everywhere else -- but because of where Tokyo sits in its time zone, they mainly get longer in the morning. Through the entire month of June, sunrise in Tokyo occurs before 4:30am -- and in the evening the sun is down by 7. Even with the steel shutters, I usually found myself blasted into consciousness by sunbeams well before 5am, not my chosen time to face the day.

Is Japan's stubbornness about adopting what the Brits call summer time and Americans call daylight savings time a way to keep people from idling away those long summer evenings? A sop to farmers, who want to get an early start in the fields? A sign of independence from the Americans, who had imposed daylight savings time under Douglas MacArthur during the Occupation years? I don't know. I just know that I prefer the effect in most U.S. cities, where the coming of summer is equated with late twilights when kids can play sports and everyone else can enjoy life.

It's not quite as bad in Shanghai, which is further south of Tokyo and further west in its own time zone. But the sun is already rising before 5am these days and setting well before 7pm. And here we have only vulnerable cloth curtains, not steel shutters, to protect us!

Trust me, people of Japan and China: you would enjoy the summer more if you had more twilight time in the evening and weren't being rousted before 5 (even when your job doesn't force you to be up then). When I become the U.S. trade negotiator, I'm adding daylight savings time to the list of U.S. demands.