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The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan will appoint Tsunehisa Katsumata, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., as its new chairman, federation sources said Friday.

The appointment was approved at a morning executive meeting as current Chairman Yosaku Fuji, president of Kansai Electric Power Co., will step down from the post in June, almost one year before his term expires.

Fuji tendered his resignation to take responsibility for an accident in August 2004 at the Mihama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture. A never-inspected coolant water pipe burst, killing five workers with super-heated steam.

Katsumata, 65, assumed Tepco’s presidency in October 2002 after serving as vice president. The Tokyo native joined the nation’s largest electric utility in 1963 after graduating from the University of Tokyo.

Fuji became the federation’s chairman in September 2002 and was reappointed for another two-year term last September. He was engaged in work to recover trust in nuclear energy and promoted Japan’s nuclear fuel cycle project in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.

Fuji had succeeded Nobuya Minami, former Tepco president, who also resigned ahead of his term’s expiration to take responsibility for reactor damage coverups. With Fuji’s resignation, the federation has had two consecutive chairmen resign before their terms expired.

Power demand up in ’04

Electricity demand in Japan in fiscal 2004 rose 3.7 percent from the previous year to 947.6 billion kwh due to the summer heat wave, an industry body said in a preliminary report Friday.

The increase for the year that ended last month was the first in two years and the highest in 10 years, said the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan.

Air conditioning demand expanded on a record hot summer, while lower-than-usual winter temperatures boosted demand for heating.

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