• Kyodo

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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) said Wednesday it has appointed Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, former head of a major business lobby, as its new chairman, in a bid to reconstruct the struggling utility tasked with the decommissioning of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Kobayashi, 74, headed the Japan Association of Corporate Executives for four years through 2019 and now serves as chairman of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp. He will assume the post after a general shareholders’ meeting scheduled in late June.

He is also a member of the management committee of the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., which helps with the reconstruction of Tepco’s business and supports its efforts to scrap the devastated reactors in Fukushima.

“I would like to fulfill my responsibility for Fukushima and strengthen the company’s management to tackle issues including the treated water” accumulated at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Kobayashi said in an online news conference.

As head of the utility, Kobayashi will need to address local opposition after the government decided earlier in the month to release treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

Tepco has also faced severe criticism over safety flaws at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, as Japan’s nuclear watchdog issued an effective ban on restarting reactors there earlier this month.

Former Chairman Takashi Kawamura, who once led Japanese information and infrastructure giant Hitachi Ltd., left Tepco in June last year — the seat has been vacant since then.

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