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Politics

Government to stay involved in Fukushima plant decommissioning

New plan outlines possible extension of public ownership of Tepco long into the future

Tepco will continue to shoulder the costs of cleanup and decommissioning at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

TOKYO -- The industry ministry said Monday that the government plans to stay involved in the decommissioning and compensation payment programs of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings (Tepco) for an extended period of time.

The decision could prolong the government's de facto nationalization of Tepco, the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, thereby keeping its grip on the company's management.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry presented the plan earlier the same day at a meeting of the ministry's expert panel on reforms at Tepco and issues related to the power plant.

The ministry officially announced that a fund will be established to amass and manage a huge amount of money for decommissioning. It also said that the compensation cost will be collected equally from all the electricity users regardless of whether they have switched to other electric power providers.

Regarding the company's nuclear power plants other than the Fukushima facility, including the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, the plan says that the government will "without hesitation enlist cooperation from other power companies toward the plant's restart." This highlighted the policy of developing a road map for decommissioning and restarting the plants without wholly entrusting the nuclear power business to Tepco.

The ministry prompted the early independence of Tepco's power transmission and distribution business.

Integration and reorganization will proceed at Tepco's electricity transmission and distribution business and other units, using the reorganization of the company's fuel and thermal power generation business that preceded it as a model.

The ministry stressed again that "the government will devote all its efforts to the recovery of the areas devastated by the disaster."

(Nikkei)

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