Nationalization of Tepco seen as possibility

Kyodo News

Tokyo Electric Power Co. may face the prospect of nationalization in light of the way it has handled the emergency at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and of the massive damages claims expected from the crisis, national policy minister Koichiro Genba suggested Tuesday.

“It is naturally possible to hold various discussions on how Tepco should function,” Genba told a news conference amid speculation that the government may look to put the utility under state ownership.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told another news conference, however, the government is “not at the moment considering nationalization.”

Tepco is expected to face a huge damages bill in line with a law on compensation over nuclear plant accidents, but it remains unclear whether it will have the financial capacity to pay it. “Since the government has been promoting nuclear energy as official policy, it is necessary for it to ultimately take responsibility,” Genba said, indicating the government will step in to cover expenses that can’t be handled by the utility.