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Tepco to name Mitsubishi Chemical's Kobayashi as chairman

Japanese utility looks to improve governance with change at the top

Yoshimitsu Kobayashi is set to assume the lead at Tepco in order to improve governance at the troubled company.

TOKYO -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. has entered into final negotiations with the government to hire Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Chairman Yoshimitsu Kobayashi as its chairman, Nikkei has learned.

Tepco has been under pressure to improve its governance, as serious safety flaws were found at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.

The company expects Kobayashi to handle the governance issue, as he has previous experience as president of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives -- one of Japan's top lobby groups.

Since former Tepco chairman Takashi Kawamura stepped down in June 2020, the post remains vacant. Kobayashi already has some dealings with Tepco, resolving management issues in the steering committee of the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation, which helps with victim compensation and funding associated with nuclear damage.

Recent misconduct by Tepco has come to light. In January, the company announced it had completed safety upgrades at unit 7 of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture. But it later turned out that the work had not been finished.

Furthermore, in mid-April, the government decided to allow Tepco to release treated radioactive water stored at the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, with the beleaguered company aiming to start the release in two years.

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