Japan to take controlling stake of Fukushima operator | News | DW | 09.05.2012
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Japan to take controlling stake of Fukushima operator

The operator of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, TEPCO, is to be partially taken over by the government, effectively nationalizing one of the country's largest utility companies.

The Japanese government announced Wednesday that it would inject 1 trillion yen ($12.5 billion, 9.5 billion euros) into the operator of the nuclear power plant devastated by last year's tsunami, placing it under temporary state control to help the company recover financially after the disaster.

The plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has been plunged into financial trouble due to payouts to thousands of victims and the cleanup of the nuclear catastrophe that took place at the Fukushima plant and the decommissioning of the plants' reactors.

In return for the financial assistance from the government, TEPCO has agreed to cut costs and raise utility rates. The company continues to provide power for the Tokyo metropolitan area, despite having all of its nuclear reactors offline. Japan recently took all of its nuclear reactors offline as the country conducts extensive safety checks.

TEPCO's management is also to be replaced, which Industry Minister Yukio Edano says will help restart the company.

"Under the new management," he said at a press conference, "I urge that the firm builds a fresh culture, listening to voices of those who have been harmed [by the nuclear crisis], to customers, to society, and starts actively releasing information."

The company's managing director, Naomi Hirose, has been nominated to replace the incumbent president. Hirose has been in charge of compensation issues related to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered Japan's worse nuclear disaster.

mz/ncy (AFP, AP, dpa)