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Call for transparency - Give up nuclear power, say shareholders

June 28, 2012

Utility shareholders meet / Nuclear power decried; TEPCO's de facto nationalization OK'd



De facto nationalization of Tokyo Electric Power Co., which will receive a capital injection of 1 trillion yen in public funds, was approved at its regular general shareholders meeting Wednesday in Tokyo.

TEPCO and eight other power utilities that own nuclear power plants held their annual shareholders meetings across the nation on the day, with shareholders demanding the companies ensure management transparency and give up nuclear power.

At the Yoyogi No. 1 Gym in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, TEPCO's shareholders meeting began at 10 a.m. According to the company, 4,390 stockholders were at the meeting as of 1 p.m., while more and more shareholders continued arriving at the venue even after the meeting was convened.

The management submitted at the meeting proposals related to amendments to its articles of incorporation, which are necessary to receive the 1 trillion yen capital injection from the government.

Any change to the articles stipulating the company's basic rules must be approved, in principle, by more than two-thirds of shareholders in an extraordinary resolution at a shareholders meeting.

The proposals were passed in the afternoon, formally approving the virtual nationalization of the utility.

At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata once again apologized for the crisis at the utility's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

"From all the members of the board, we offer sincerest apologies for the incident. Determined to make a fresh start, we'd like to thoroughly streamline the company, make compensation payments over the damage due to the crisis [following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami] and maintain a stable electricity supply for consumers to recover the public's trust," the chairman said.

The power company explained its decision to receive the capital injection of 1 trillion yen from the government's Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund as part of its comprehensive business rehabilitation program.

At the meeting, a TEPCO official explained the decision, saying, "To complete compensation, decommission damaged reactors and maintain a stable supply of electricity, while avoiding a situation of liabilities exceeding assets, it is absolutely necessary for the company to drastically improve its financial structure."

The company also submitted at the meeting the lineup of 11 new board members, including incoming Chairman Kazuhiko Shimokobe, who formerly headed the fund's management committee, and incoming President Naomi Hirose, who is currently managing director.

Tokyo Vice Gov. Naoki Inose attended the meeting to represent the Tokyo metropolitan government, now TEPCO's largest shareholder.

Inose submitted four proposals, including one in which the metropolitan government calls for the power company to ensure management transparency.

In explaining the proposals, Inose said, "TEPCO should disclose information related to the process of raising electricity rates and secure management transparency," and demanded the company thoroughly cut costs.

In addition to the proposals, Inose expressed opposition to the idea that Katsumata, who was slated to resign as chairman Wednesday after the shareholders meeting, become a "shayu" (corporate friend).

He also demanded the sale of Tokyo Denryoku Byoin, a hospital in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, that TEPCO workers use.

With a general shareholder submitting an emergency motion to replace Katsumata with Inose as the meeting's chairman, the atmosphere at the meeting was tense from the start, with some participants raising their voices angrily at the utility's management.


Hashimoto: Give up N-plants

Meanwhile, at Osaka's Umeda Arts Theater, a record 3,825 investors had already crowded into Kansai Electric Power Co.'s shareholders meeting as of 1 p.m.

Mayor Toru Hashimoto of the Osaka city government, which is the largest shareholder in KEPCO, said at the meeting: "If the current situation continues, KEPCO will collapse. The company hasn't explained enough about the risk to its future management."

Raising questions about management risks for nuclear power plants, among other issues, Hashimoto demanded KEPCO permanently shut down the nuclear power plants it owns as soon as possible. Similar questions were asked also by individual shareholders.

This is the first time in a decade for the nine power companies that own nuclear power plants to hold shareholders meetings on the same day.

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