26 Avril 2012
The Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) have decided to set up a "reform headquarters" at Japan's biggest utility in June that will directly report to Kazuhiko Shimokobe, the utility's next chairman.
The secretariat of the reform headquarters is expected to consist mainly of senior staff from the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund and TEPCO's middle-ranking reform-minded employees. The reform headquarters, tasked with carrying out internal supervision and coordination as Shimokobe's task force, will take the lead in reforming the giant organization that boasts about 50,000 group employees.
The scheme will be included in the "comprehensive special business plan" that the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund and TEPCO plan to jointly submit to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano on April 27. The business plan outlines measures to restructure the utility and review the composition and nature of the business organization.
The reform headquarters is expected to be staffed by 20 to 30 people. The successor to current TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa will be named deputy chief of the reform headquarters. Those middle-ranking TEPCO employees whom the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund judged through interviews and other means as having "strong crisis awareness" of the utility's current status will be selected and recruited from all sections across the company including the fuel division. The reform headquarters will also be tasked with conquering the drawbacks from the persistent sectionalism rampant within the company.
Former industry ministry official Takashi Shimada, who had played a key role in compiling the "comprehensive special business plan" as head of the steering committee of the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund will be named a leader of the secretariat of the reform headquarters. Shimada was a key figure within the industry ministry who advocated a reform of the electric power industry. While being respected by industry minister Edano, Shimada had long served as secretary for former state minister for economic and fiscal policy Kaoru Yosano who has appealed for the need of nuclear power. Therefore, TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata has faith in Shimada. While playing a role in bridging between the government and TEPCO, which tend to conflict with each other, Shimada will keep a close eye out for what is going on within and outside the company. Consultants and accountants from outside will also be recruited into the reform headquarters.
The government will inject one trillion yen in public funds into TEPCO after receiving endorsement for the comprehensive business plan in early May following the Golden Week holiday period. The government is expected to secure a majority stake in the utility that carries with it voting rights in such a way to effectively nationalize the company. TEPCO, under Shimokobe as chairman, will move ahead to reform itself as stipulated in the comprehensive business plan, reducing costs by 3.3 trillion yen over 10 years and splitting the company into power transmission and distribution entities.
TEPCO will have a majority of its board members from outside and become a company with committees in June. The utility will facilitate smooth payments of damages for the Fukushima nuclear disaster and ensure stable power supply simultaneously by setting up the task force under the direct control of the chairman to accelerate its reform efforts. The reform headquarters are poised to play a leading role in addressing difficult issues including that of electricity rate hikes.