• Kyodo

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Tohoku Electric Power Co. held a welcoming ceremony for new employees Tuesday at its headquarters in disaster-hit Sendai, about 1½ months behind schedule, after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami forced a postponement.

Some 340 new employees, including those from disaster-hit areas, attended the ceremony after the calamities damaged power generation and transmission facilities, and prompted the company to focus all of its efforts on restoring stable electricity supply.

The ceremony, normally be held at the beginning of the business year on April 1, came amid the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., sparking worries about food safety and forcing nearby residents to evacuate due to radiation fears.

Tohoku Electric President Makoto Kaiwa said the operator of the Onagawa nuclear power plant faces two challenges—power shortages and public distrust in nuclear power.

“It is an unprecedented crisis, but we need to stand together with local communities,” he said.

New employees usually receive training before being assigned to various sections. This year’s recruits have already started working at branches and power generation facilities as the company considers restoration of such facilities its priority, according to the utility firm.

“Our industry is in a very severe situation. But we would like to contribute to stable supplies of electricity,” Yoshiko Uchida said in a speech she gave representing the new recruits at the ceremony.

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