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Tepco shrugs off activist investors

Beleaguered utility swamped by anti-nuclear proposals at annual shareholders' meeting

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Tokyo Electric Power Co. shot down a bevy of anti-nuclear policy proposals lobbed up by irate shareholders at its annual meeting Thursday in Tokyo and vowed instead to restart its idled reactors.

Some 2,150 shareholders attended the meeting in Chiyoda Ward.

Outside, anti-nuclear activists from Greenpeace held a rally, calling on Tepco to adequately compensate victims of the radiation leaked by its meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 plant and phase out nuclear energy. Decked out in radiation suits and masks, they held aloft signs that read, “Pay victims, no restart.”

Some shareholders proposed that Tepco abandon nuclear power.

One urged Tepco to revise its 10-year business plan, approved in January, to eliminate reactor restarts.

He also questioned the value of restarting reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, which is a critical part of the utility’s plans.

“Restarting the two reactors will only add just 2.71 million kw of power. . . . Our firm had more than 59 million kw of capacity at the peak of last summer and was able to easily provide power without nuclear power,” the shareholder said.

He called on the utility to turn to energy-efficient, state-of-the-art thermal power plants, which release less carbon dioxide.

Citing the number of faults running under it, another shareholder urged Tepco to shutter the giant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Other proposals included halting construction of the Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture, to be jointly operated with Tohoku Electric, and ending investment in Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which runs a reprocessing plant in Aomori.

But these proposals were all rejected at the meeting.

Individual shareholders also spoke up for anti-nuclear policies during the question-and-answer session.

“Why doesn’t Tepco management flat out say that nuclear power won’t make a profit,” said one shareholder. “I am really wondering about that. Everyone knows that Tepco has gone down because of nuclear power . . . so it won’t do any good to the company if it keeps relying on nuclear power.”

Tepco President Naomi Hirose said the utility’s mission is to provide a stable power supply to customers as cheaply as possible. Without nuclear power, the utility has to rely on thermal power, which pushes up electricity prices due to the increasing costs of importing fuel to run the plants.

None of Japan’s 48 commercial reactors has passed the review needed to restart operations in the wake of the Fukushima accident. All remain offline.

  • Sam Gilman

    It’s insane, isn’t it? The fossil fuel industry has a long, well-documented history of astroturfing (funding fake grass roots organisations). I’m beginning to wonder if that’s happening here.