News / Asia

Japan LDP to Make Proposals on Tepco This Month; Breakup an Option

Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the storage tank which workers detected the water dripping from the top, at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013.Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the storage tank which workers detected the water dripping from the top, at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013.
x
Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the storage tank which workers detected the water dripping from the top, at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the storage tank which workers detected the water dripping from the top, at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013.
Reuters
Japan's ruling party will make proposals this month on how to handle the embattled operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, including the possible break-up of the giant utility, a senior party policymaker said on Wednesday.
 
Tadamori Oshima, head of the Liberal Democratic Party's task force on reconstruction after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the reactors at the Fukushima plant, told Reuters the government needs to do more in dealing with floods of contaminated water at the plant and decommissioning the facility.
 
He declined to express a clear opinion on the controversial question of whether to break up Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) , but said: “It's time for us to make a decision, not in order to save Tepco, but to pave the way toward reconstruction.”
 
The current set-up is not working, Oshima said in an interview, as progress is hindered by Tepco remaining in charge of all the work.
 
Tepco has lost $27 billion since the disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and faces massive liabilities as it decommissions the facility, compensates tens of thousands of evacuees and pays for decontamination of an area nearly the size of Connecticut.
 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised that the government would take primary responsibility for containing the contaminated water at Fukushima, telling the world the “situation is under control.”
 
At the Fukushima plant, some 800 tons of groundwater flow into the basements of the wrecked reactor buildings every day, mixing with highly radioactive water used to cool melted fuel rods. After months of denials, Tepco in July admitted contaminated water was flowing into the nearby Pacific Ocean. It also since found that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of hundreds of hastily-built storage tanks. Last week, Tepco said another 430 liters of water overflowed from another tank.
 
In the latest mishap, six Fukushima workers were exposed to a leak of highly radioactive water after one of them mistakenly detached a pipe.
 
Heated debate
 
The government effectively nationalized Tepco last year with a taxpayer-funded rescue. But there is heated debate over direct government involvement in the company and whether to split it up, such as by spinning off the Fukushima clean-up and letting the remainder of Tepco focus on its traditional business of generating electricity for millions of homes and businesses in the Tokyo area.
 
Oshima, a former LDP vice president, reportedly last month proposed breaking off the function of decommissioning the wrecked Fukushima plant - a process that is expected to take at least 30 years and cost more than $100 billion. He declined to comment on what he proposed, saying it was a private letter to Abe that wasn't meant to be disclosed.
 
There is a push to enact a “special measures law” that would let the government take a more direct role, as it is now authorized only to participate in research and development on the water issue.
 
Oshima said careful negotiations are under way with a wide variety of parties - including government ministries and the LDP's junior coalition partner, New Komeito - on such issues as stronger government involvement and potential reorganization.
 
Tepco has said it is not in a position to comment on its future structure, and aims to return to profitability this financial year.
 
The bureaucracy is pushing back, government officials say. The Finance Ministry fears that breaking up Tepco would hand another large bill to taxpayers, while the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), which regulates electric utilities, worries a break-up could have ripple effects through the industry.
 
METI Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said this week that a special measures law was not needed as the current legal framework allows the government to be more involved in Tepco.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More