The eastern half of the country will have to deal with severe electricity shortages for quite a while, as electric power is difficult to shift from other parts of the country due to incompatible transmission systems as shown in this chart of the country's power grid from Wikimedia:
The New York Times nicely summarizes the impact of such shortages:
"Besides the dangerously disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, three other nuclear plants, six coal-fired plants and 11 oil-fired power plants were initially shut down, according to PFC Energy, an international consulting firm.The power shortages may last quite a long time; some experts are predicting that
By some measures, as much as 20 percent of the total generating capacity of the region’s dominant utility, the Tokyo Electric Power Company — or an estimated 11 percent of Japan’s total power — is out of service.Until all the lost or suspended generating capacity is replaced, economists say, factories will operate at reduced levels, untold numbers of cars and other products will go unbuilt and legions of shoppers will cut back their buying "
Japan's shortage of electricity may last two or three years and that production slowdowns will continue in many sectors such as automotive, semiconductors, electronics, special chemicals, machinery, and precision equipment. This seems likely to reduce the chances that GDP growth in Q2 2011 will be positive year on year.
In addition, it appears that turf battles and government inertia are hobbling the cleanup effort: Focus on local firms slows debris removal : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)
"More than two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, piles of debris created by the ensuing tsunami remain untouched throughout disaster-hit areas.It seems to me that the Japanese government has nothing more than ad-hoc responses to this crisis. They've never had any meaningful control of the nuclear crisis since day 1. There are too many simultaneous problems causing cascading additional problems. Their deliberative style of decision-making is a poor fit for a crisis that requires prompt action.
Municipal governments have consigned most removal work to local companies, a practice that disaster-management experts say is delaying cleanup efforts. Calls are increasing for the central government to play a more active role and for the debris to be removed more quickly."