June 27 - Tepco shareholders approve nationalisation of the utility to keep it afloat, but reject motion to scrap nuclear plant in NW Japan. Arnold Gay reports.
Faced with the high likelihood of collapse, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) shareholders approved the nationalisation of the utility Wednesday, in return for a near $13 billion (one trillion yen) injection from the government. Appealing to shareholders, who had trudged into Tokyo's Yoyogi National Stadium for the AGM, Tepco president Toshio Nishizawa said the utility could not afford to stay independent. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY PRESIDENT TOSHIO NISHIZAWA SAYING: "Because our financial base and earning structure are deteriorating and our instant funding ability is decreasing, we cannot remain as an independent corporation without a radical reform plan." The one trillion yen injection brings total government support for the company to at least 3.5 trillion yen, since the meltdowns at Fukushima in March last year The eventual cost of the nuclear disaster triggered by a huge quake and tsunami has been estimated at more than $100 billion. But Tepco shareholders rejected a proposal to scrap all seven reactors at the world's biggest nuclear facility. A group of shareholders, had called for replacing the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant with a new fuel-efficient, gas-fired plant at the site. Outside the stadium, dozens of anti-nuclear activists protested, condemning Tepco and the government's nuclear policy and calling for a complete end to Japan's nuclear reliance. Among them, Tepco shareholder Akira Hasegawa. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY SHAREHOLDER, AKIRA HASEGAWA, SAYING: "Japan was hit by such a terrible tragedy. So I think we should definitely get rid of nuclear power." Their cause took a hit on June 16, when the Japanese government approved the resumption of nuclear power operations at two reactors. The move is a victory for Japan's still-powerful nuclear industry, and could now open the door to more restarts among Japan's 50 nuclear power reactors. Arnold Gay, Reuters