• Kyodo

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The Fukushima Prefectural Government has refused to accept an electric power industry petition protesting a proposed hike in the nuclear fuel tax, prefectural officials said Saturday.

The prefecture mailed the petition back to the Federation of Electric Power Companies, arguing there is “no reason to accept it from the federation because Tokyo Electric Power Co. is the sole taxpayer” of the nuclear fuel tax in Fukushima.

The federation of 10 national electric power companies, including Tepco, filed the petition Friday with the prefectural government and assembly, urging them to reconsider the proposed tax hike.

Federation Vice Chairman Isami Kojima, who hand-delivered the petition to the prefectural government, complained that the prefecture has failed to take sufficient time in negotiating with Tepco. He also claimed that a sharp tax hike could affect the entire industry.

On Thursday, the prefectural government submitted an ordinance amendment bill to the assembly to effectively raise the nuclear fuel tax to 13.5 percent from the current 7 percent.

Tepco, which operates 10 reactors at two nuclear power plants in the prefecture, submitted a petition the same day to Fukushima Gov. Eisaku Sato. It calls for the withdrawal of the tax hike plan.

In Tokyo, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry also voiced opposition. It said the tax may hinder the central government’s efforts to establish an infrastructure for a stable electricity supply.

The tax hike proposal is nevertheless expected to be adopted by the assembly and take effect Nov. 10 for a five-year period.

The nuclear fuel tax, a local tax imposed on operators of nuclear power plants, is reviewed every five years.

The proposed hike would increase Fukushima’s local tax revenues by about 9 billion yen over the next five years.

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