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Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) is the biggest energy company in Japan, but since the disaster at the Fukushima Daihatsu nuclear power plant last year it has struggled to survive.
Shareholders held a meeting in which they agreed to accept $12.6 billion from the Japanese government and nationalise the company. In total Tepco has received $43.9 billion in support from the government since last year’s earthquake and tsunami caused the reactor meltdown at Fukushima, and the subsequent closure of all nuclear reactors in Japan.
Japan used to rely on nuclear power for 30% of its electricity generation, and the loss of this power source has led to increased imports for oil and LNG. As a result Tepco’s costs have risen dramatically and shareholders discussed the proposal of increasing household electricity prices by 10%. The decision to restart nuclear reactors, despite the public protests was also debated as a solution for reducing the growing fossil fuel import costs.
Mariko Oi, from the BBC, said that, “in a country where public demonstrations used to be few and far between, anti-nuclear protests have become a usual sight.”
“Activists were outside the event today and earlier this month, tens of thousands of them protested against the government's decision to restart two nuclear reactors at the Ohi power plant in Fukui Prefecture.”
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has stated that it is crucial that Japans economy (the third largest in the world) is not negatively affected by electricity shortages. This desire may influence the decisions to revert back to nuclear power and turn the reactors back on, despite public fears of safety.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com