When Kazuhiko Shimokobe signaled late last year his intention to step down as chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co., as the company and the government were forging a new 10-year business plan, officials knew it would be difficult to find a successor.

"As we tried to compile the plan, all of the outside directors felt we were really facing an extremely difficult environment. At that point, I'm sure nobody, including myself, wanted to continue serving as an outside director beyond June this year," recalled Fumio Sudo, who on Tuesday took over as chairman of Tepco.

Skyrocketing compensation payments and costs for decontamination work, and the continuous increase of radioactive water at Fukushima No. 1 are just a few reasons why few people were eager to lead the embattled company.