Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) is considering tapping Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, who headed a major business lobby, to become the utility’s chairman as it continues with decommissioning the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.
Tepco is said to be making final arrangements with the government to name Kobayashi, former head of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives and now chairman of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp., to the post, according to the sources. As a major shareholder, the government has a say in Tepco’s operations.
He is also a member of the management committee of the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommission Facilitation Corp., which is helping with the business reconstruction of Tepco and supporting its efforts to scrap the crippled reactors.
If appointed, Kobayashi will face the task of turning around a company that has suffered multiple setbacks in its nuclear power business, most recently an effective ban by the nation’s nuclear watchdog on restarting its largest facility, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, due to safety flaws.
Tepco also needs to step up efforts toward decarbonization and address local opposition to the government’s decision last week to release into the Pacific Ocean, in small amounts, water that has been accumulating at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, which has been treated but remains contaminated with radioactive tritium.
Since the nuclear disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Tepco has picked chairman candidates from outside the company to oversee management reforms and tackle efforts toward decommissioning the nuclear plant.
Former Chairman Takashi Kawamura, who had headed infrastructure conglomerate Hitachi Ltd., left the Tepco post in June last year and the seat has been vacant since.
Kobayashi, 74, served as chairman of the business lobby, known as Keizai Doyukai, between 2015 and 2019.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.