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It’s official: Sudo to chair Tepco

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. formally announced Tuesday that Fumio Sudo, a former president of steel maker JFE Holdings Inc., will become chairman of the struggling utility April 1.

Kazuhiko Shimokobe, a 66-year-old lawyer who was brought in from the outside to serve as chairman in June 2012, will step down at the end of March.

Sudo, 72, is considered a suitable successor because of his wealth of experience in corporate management and his contribution to Tepco’s reconstruction as an outside director.

Tepco is close to getting government approval of a new business turnaround plan that is expected to feature greater public financial support.

Even so, it remains unclear whether Tepco can put its business back on track, given the uncertainty over when the seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture will be able to resume partial operations.

As a result of the 2011 nuclear disaster, Tepco is saddled with trillions of yen in compensation payments and costs to clean up radiation-contaminated land outside the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The company is also facing heavy outlays for importing fossil fuel to boost thermal power generation to make up for the loss of nuclear power.

To bolster its financial standing, Tepco received a ¥1 trillion capital injection from the government-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund in 2012, falling under effective government control.