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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid