The Japanese government has decided to maintain control over the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for an extended period.
Officials made the decision due to rising costs from the recovery of the 2011 nuclear accident.
The government acquired a 50.1 percent stake in Tokyo Electric Power Company through a state-backed bailout fund after the accident. This put the utility under effective state control.
Under the current plan, the government was to gradually reduce its control after April by selling TEPCO stocks in phases, while monitoring the company’s management.
But the government estimates that it will cost a total of about 188 billion dollars to clean up the soil, pay compensation, and decommission reactors. That’s about twice as much as an earlier estimate.
The extension of state control over TEPCO means that the government has to give up the current plan to cover the clean-up cost of about 35 billion dollars by selling the utility’s shares.
The government is now considering listing a joint venture set up by TEPCO, and Chubu Electric Power Company, and selling its stocks. It is also looking into selling some shares of a TEPCO group company that operates a power transmission business.
The government intends to include these financial alternatives in the utility’s business plan which will be renewed for the first time in 3 years in spring.