TEPCO must regain public trust to ensure Fukushima’s steady recovery — The Yomiuri Shimbun

” To ensure the steady recovery of Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s revised business plan must not be allowed to end up as pie in the sky.

TEPCO has compiled a new business plan. The utility has strengthened its steps to improve profitability to raise funds for costs including decommissioning reactors and compensation related to the March 2011 accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This is the second time the plan has been revised.

The total cost of cleaning up the nuclear accident has ballooned from ¥11 trillion to ¥21.5 trillion. TEPCO will shoulder ¥16 trillion of this amount over about 30 years. The ¥300 billion TEPCO spent in fiscal 2016 on compensation and reactor decommissioning costs will be increased to ¥500 billion annually.

TEPCO must boost its “earning power” to secure sufficient capital to meet those costs. Restarting reactors at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture will be essential for this. Each reactor brought back online will raise TEPCO’s earnings by ¥40 billion to ¥90 billion per year.

TEPCO is working to gradually restart all seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant from fiscal 2019. However, as things stand, high hurdles remain in its way. This is because even if a reactor passes safety screenings conducted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, local government authorities also must agree to the reactors’ restart.

The recent revelation that TEPCO did not disclose data about the insufficient earthquake-resistance of the main quake-resistant building at the plant has further heightened local distrust of the utility. Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama is not budging from his cautious stance because he believes safety measures at the plant are insufficient. “At the moment, I can’t agree to the restart” of the reactors, Yoneyama said.

An expert panel of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry also had some stinging criticism for TEPCO, saying it “has not earned enough trust from the public.”

Transparency vital

On June 23, TEPCO will switch to a new leadership lineup when Hitachi, Ltd. Honorary Chairman Takashi Kawamura becomes TEPCO’s chairman. Kawamura will need to work hard to regain trust in TEPCO so restarting its reactors can become a reality.

Strengthening cooperation with other electric utilities and launching new operations, such as gas retailing, also will be effective in solidifying TEPCO’s revenue base. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the overseas development of its thermal power business, in which TEPCO is pursuing integration with Chubu Electric Power Co.

The new plan stipulates TEPCO will “prepare a basic framework for cooperation with other companies” by around fiscal 2020, keeping in mind the Higashidori nuclear plant TEPCO is constructing in Aomori Prefecture.

TEPCO is considering working with Tohoku Electric Power Co., which has a nuclear power plant in that region. If this tie-up comes to fruition, it will be useful for establishing a stable supply of electricity. TEPCO’s intentions on this issue are understandable.

Other utilities that could become partners with TEPCO during a realignment in the industry hold deep-rooted concerns that cooperating with TEPCO could result in the costs of dealing with the nuclear accident being shunted on to them. TEPCO must lay the groundwork to dispel such concerns.

TEPCO and the government will, as soon as this autumn, establish a forum at which they can listen to the opinions of other electric utilities on steps to reorganize nuclear power and electricity transmission businesses.

Profits will be distributed based on the capital contribution ratio in a joint venture. Other companies should not be forced to shoulder the costs of the Fukushima nuclear accident. Highly transparent rules such as these will need to be drawn up. ”

by The Yomiuri Shimbun



Collection of anime shorts to mark 5th anniversary of Fukushima disaster — The Asahi Shimbun

” MIHARU, Fukushima Prefecture–The studio that produced the famed Evangelion TV anime series is working on an omnibus of shorts that depicts the recovery and struggles that residents of Fukushima Prefecture face five years after the 2011 disaster.

Titled “Miraieno Tegami–Kono Michi no Tochukara” (A letter to the future–From the road halfway there), the 10 episodes, each 2 minutes long, are being produced by anime studio Gainax Co. and its Fukushima subsidiary.

The project was commissioned by the Fukushima prefectural government in the hope the films would help people to remember the Fukushima nuclear accident and mitigate negative publicity lingering from the disaster.

The episodes are based on real-life stories to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear emergency.

The episodes are set in different parts of Fukushima Prefecture, from evacuation zones around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to further inland.

At a Jan. 8 news conference in Miharu a month ahead of the preview screenings, the production team showed several scenes from an episode about a woman who moved to Kawauchi after the disaster and her interactions with the village’s residents.

“I hope the charms of Fukushima come across so viewers will visit the locations featured in the series,” said Yoshinori Asao, Fukushima Gainax Co. president and general director of the series.

Creative director Michihiko Yanai added, “It is an opportunity to tell people what is changing rapidly (compared with how Fukushima was right after the disaster) and what cannot be changed so easily here.”

Preview screenings around Japan are scheduled from the middle of February. The shorts will be also available to watch online on the project’s website at (miraitegami.jp). ”