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June 07, 2008, Japan - "Research group opposes daylight-saving time", The Yomiuri Shimbun

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A research group opposed a plan to introduce a summer daylight-saving time system Thursday, saying the system would impair people's health.

The plan, proposed by the Diet's bipartisan caucus, aims to implement the system in 2010.

According to a study by the Japanese Society of Sleep Research released Thursday, the proposed system would have a negative impact on body rhythms, disrupting sleep patterns and negatively affecting health.

The new daylight-saving system proposes that clocks be put forward one hour during the summer, as in Europe and the United States.

Hokkaido University Prof. Kenichi Honma led the research group's special committee on the time system. The group conducted a survey and analyzed the results along with documents from counties that have already introduced the system.

The group found that under the proposed system, people would sleep for fewer hours for an initial two-week period. Sleeping time would shorten over a maximum of about two weeks. Sleep quality also would deteriorate under the summer-time system, it said.

The body's ability to adjust to a day and night cycle deteriorates and the biological clock is disrupted when daylight saving time is introduced, causing an increase in symptoms of sleep disorders, the research group claims.

The group also studied empirical data of a 2004 experiment--the first of its kind in Japan--in which some Hokkaido companies introduced simulated daylight savings time by bringing office start and finish times forward by one hour.

Based on this data, the group concluded that a national daylight saving time would create about 1.2 trillion yen in economic losses. The losses would stem from an increase in medical fees and a deterioration of working efficiency.

According to the Hokkaido experiment, about 40 percent of employees said they felt unhealthier due to the earlier starting time.

The caucus plans to submit a bill to introduce the summer time system to the House of Councillors as early as next week. It aims to pass the bill during an extraordinary Diet session in autumn.

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