March 30, 2019
Saddled with massive outlays following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the parent company of Tokyo Electric Power Co. is only able to keep going through the injection of public funds.
Yet, it has emerged the company now feels it is in a position to donate about 200 million yen ($1.8 million) to a village in Aomori Prefecture through a special tax program that allows firms making payments to receive a corporate tax break.
The donations would underwrite the cost of three projects totaling 800 million yen that the village of Higashidori hopes will revitalize its economy. One program is for branding local farm and fishery products.
TEPCO gained approval in January 2011 to construct a nuclear power plant in Higashidori, and the initial plan was to begin operations in March 2017.
But the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant led to an indefinite postponement of construction work. The village had anticipated property tax revenues after the nuclear plant was constructed, but has had to undertake stiff fiscal belt-tightening instead. A number of inns in the village have since closed.
TEPCO Holdings on March 29 proposed the donation for fiscal 2018 to the village and also indicated it was prepared to make another donation for fiscal 2019.
Its largesse is at odds with the fact that TEPCO is effectively under state control, given the huge amounts of public funds pumped into the utility to keep it afloat.
It also faces crippling costs in decommissioning the stricken Fukushima plant and compensating victims of the nuclear accident.
Given the situation, eyebrows will likely be raised if donations are made to local municipalities that play host to nuclear plants seeking to resume operations or serve as candidate sites for new plants.