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Fukushima plant operator to remain under state control

Report to cite inadequate reforms at Tepco

TOKYO -- A Japanese government-backed fund has concluded the state should maintain ownership over Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings because of "insufficient" management reforms at the utility laid low by a nuclear disaster six years ago, The Nikkei learned Thursday.

The state will "continue its involvement in Tepco," with the issue to be considered again in 2019, according to an assessment due out as early as this month. 

Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF) holds 50.1% of voting rights in Tepco following a de facto nationalization of the troubled utility. Personnel from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have been installed as executives.

The original timeline had Tepco emerging from state ownership starting as soon as the current fiscal year.

The NDF report will cite how compensation and reactor-decommissioning costs stemming from the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are now expected to exceed 20 trillion yen ($183 billion), surpassing initial estimates.

It will also note that Tepco still has no prospect of restarting its workhorse Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture. The Tokyo utility recently revealed that a building supposed to be used as a control center in the event of a major earthquake at the sprawling plant may not be as quake-resistant as previously claimed. In light of that disclosure, NDF will argue that Tepco has not regained the public's trust, stressing that the electricity provider's rehabilitation is incomplete.

NDF will praise some of Tepco's efforts so as not to undermine employee morale. JERA, the thermal power joint venture with Nagoya-based Chubu Electric Power, will be recognized, as will Tepco's cost-saving initiatives throughout the group and expansion of new businesses.

Tepco will submit to the government a new turnaround plan as soon as this month based on NDF's assessment. The government and NDF will check on the utility's progress before revisiting the issue of state ownership.

(Nikkei)

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