Tepco chief Shimokobe asked to delay his exit

Kyodo

The government has asked Tokyo Electric Power Co. Chairman Kazuhiko Shimokobe to stay in his post beyond his scheduled exit in June so he can continue rebuilding the utility, trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday.

The 65-year-old lawyer assumed the chairmanship last June and has been working with President Naomi Hirose to overcome the company’s financial plight stemming from the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Tepco has effectively been put under government control to ride out the storm.

In a meeting with Shimokobe and other outside directors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted as saying: “We must accelerate efforts to deal with the accident and to rebuild Fukushima. To do so, it is extremely important to properly revitalize Tepco as a private company. I want you to continue to be committed to the work.”

The outside directors vowed to do their utmost, said Motegi, who attended the meeting.

Tepco is undertaking a restructuring process after receiving ¥1 trillion in public funds last year. But it still needs massive funds to scrap the crippled reactors in Fukushima and clean up contaminated areas.

On the possibility of providing additional support to the ailing utility, Motegi said the government wants to “take a step forward” but did not elaborate.