TEPCO, or Tokyo Electric Power Co., is facing multibillion dollar losses following the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant. Possible government takeover of the company is being discussed.
In the March 28th online.wsj.com article, “Debate Begins on Tepco Future”, Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of the opposition Your Party, was quoted as saying at a news conference Friday: “There is a strong possibility the current legal framework may not be adequate to solve the situation. The solution then will be temporary nationalization of the company.”
It is likely billions will be sought in damages by people in the 12 mile evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, as well as by farmers beyond the zone who were forced to destroy crops due to radiation exposure, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
A major issue is whether the nuclear disaster could be categorized as “a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character”, according to a 1961 Japanese law. If it does, it’s likely the Japanese government would be responsible for a majority of the damages.
TEPCO has said its plant was not built to withstand both a tsunami and a 9.0 magnitude earthquake – the strongest in the nation’s history. Since the government approved the plant as it was built, TEPCO could possibly contend that the disaster does indeed fall under this law.
However, Yukio Edano, the government’s chief spokesman was quoted as saying on Friday that he felt an exemption from liability was “impossible” under the “social circumstances”, according to the March 28th online.wsj.com article, “Debate Begins on Tepco Future”.