• Kyodo

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Fukushima Prefecture has decided to postpone the introduction of an ordinance that would sharply raise the local tax on nuclear fuel, prefectural officials said Saturday.

The officials said they decided to postpone the hike, originally scheduled to take effect on Sunday, out of respect for the wishes of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Minister Toranosuke Katayama.

Katayama has asked the Fukushima Prefectural Government to try to obtain the consent of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the sole payer of the tax, for the planned hike.

Tepco operates 10 nuclear reactors at two power plants in the prefecture.

The delay in the implementation of the new nuclear-fuel tax ordinance means there will be no legal basis for the tax after the existing nuclear-fuel tax ordinance expires Saturday.

But the local officials said postponing the tax hike will do no real damage to its tax revenues, since the tax is imposed only on newly loaded fuel. The loading of new fuel is unlikely until at least early next year as Tepco has temporarily shut down six of the 10 reactors following a scandal involving the covering up of reactor damage.

The nation’s largest power firm expressed disappointment when Katayama approved the tax hike Sept. 27. The approval allows the prefectural government to raise the tax rate to 10 percent of nuclear fuel prices from the current 7 percent and introduce a fresh charge of 6,000 yen per kg, raising the effective tax rate to 13.5 percent.

Tepco issued a statement on Sept. 27, calling the ministry’s approval “extremely regrettable” and saying it would closely analyze the ministry’s judgment before deciding whether to file a lawsuit.

The prefectural government expects the tax hike to bring in some 4.5 billion yen a year in tax revenues.

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