9 utilities reject all shareholders' anti-nuclear appeals

June 27, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Nine electric power companies stood firm on June 27 on nuclear power generation, rejecting all anti-nuclear proposals from their shareholders, including one from Osaka city to Kansai Electric Power Co., which sought the abolition of all its nuclear power plants.

The rejections were made in their annual shareholders’ meetings of nine of the 10 utilities, except Okinawa Electric Power Co., operating in Japan.

Meanwhile, at the shareholders’ meeting of Tokyo Electric Power Co., shareholders accepted a plan to effectively put the company under state control with 1 trillion yen (about $12.5 billion) in investment from the central government.

However, it rejected a proposal from the Tokyo metropolitan government to seek openness in TEPCO management over electric rate increases and a commitment toward customer service.

After the meeting, TEPCO chose lawyer Kazuhiko Shimokobe as its new chairman and managing director Naomi Hirose as its new president in a directors' meeting.

In the KEPCO shareholders’ meeting, Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka city, the utility's largest shareholder, asked questions from memos he was holding.

“I have a major concern that KEPCO will go bankrupt if the current situation continues. ... KEPCO has yet to make sufficient explanations on the risks to its future,” he said.

As for the issue of spent nuclear fuel, the Osaka mayor asked, “Will the reprocessing project be maintained? By when will the final disposal site be constructed? We cannot make predictions on (KEPCO’s) future. What do you think about the risks (to the future)?”

Then, he said to KEPCO executives, “Are you keeping in mind that if a certain number of nuclear reactors suspend operations, your company will suffer deficits?”

Hashimoto also asked, “The (political parties that control) the central government could change. … If the government changes and (as a result) the energy policies change toward the abolition of nuclear reactors, how will KEPCO deal with such a situation?”

Then, the moderator interrupted him, saying, “The time limit of three minutes (for comments) is up.”

In response, Hashimoto said, “(Give me) a little more time,” and emphasized, “Now is the time for the turning point, the turning point for the energy supply system.”

To Hashimoto’s questions, KEPCO’s executives made replies.

Hashimoto, however, repeatedly shouted at them, “You have yet to answer some of my questions. … I want to submit motions to suspend the proceedings.”

When the moderator interrupted the Osaka mayor again, he shook hands with lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, who was accompanying Hashimoto as a member of the energy strategy council jointly set up by Osaka city and Osaka Prefecture, and left the venue of the shareholders’ meeting.

Meanwhile, in the TEPCO shareholders’ meeting, Naoki Inose, vice governor of Tokyo, explained for 15 minutes why the Tokyo metropolitan government submitted proposals to the utility as a shareholder.

“Trust in TEPCO is greatly shaken. We made proposals to push its structural reforms,” he explained.

“It will be key for newborn TEPCO to fulfill its responsibility to explain in order to recover trust,” he said loudly.

“What is necessary to restart from zero is reform of awareness of its employees,” he said.

Applause and jeers arose from the participating shareholders.

TEPCO sent notices to its shareholders prior to the meeting. In them, the utility said that it would oppose the proposals to be submitted by the Tokyo metropolitan government, which asked that customer service be stipulated as a company philosophy and sought transparency among its management on electricity rate hikes.

The metropolitan government also sent documents to about 400 large shareholders asking them to support the proposals. It also asked individual shareholders to endorse the proposals on its website.

“Representing users, I asked about electricity rate hikes,” Inose said.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Anti-nuclear activists show banners to Tokyo Electric Power Co. shareholders who are attending the utility’s shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on June 27. (Jun Kaneko)

Anti-nuclear activists show banners to Tokyo Electric Power Co. shareholders who are attending the utility’s shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on June 27. (Jun Kaneko)

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  • Anti-nuclear activists show banners to Tokyo Electric Power Co. shareholders who are attending the utility’s shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on June 27. (Jun Kaneko)
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. shareholders walk to the shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on June 27. (Jun Ueda)
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s TV monitors show its shareholders listening to the speech of TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa in the annual shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on June 27. (Jun Ueda)

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