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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid