Tokyo, Japan — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 17 June 2011 – An independent panel is to oversee a tough restructuring of Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) in order to ensure that the utility will be able to raise what funds it can to pay huge compensation claims.
The Japanese government has put forward a bill to ensure that the utility can pay compensation to tens of thousands affected by the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was crippled in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Tens of thousands of people remain evacuated from homes, farms and businesses in a 20km zone around and also beyond the radiation-spewing plant.
The five-member panel, led by lawyer Kazuhiko Shimokobe “’ former deputy chief of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations “’ will report to industry minister Banri Kaieda and submit its final report in September.
The new bill calls for the creation of a body to handle claims made against Tepco and will be funded by public money, as well as contributions from power companies. Analysts say its passage in parliament is likely to depend partly on whether the government can win over those opposed to it by enforcing tough restructuring on Tepco.
“All items are subject to review by the panel, including personnel expenses and pension benefits,” Shimokobe said in a news briefing, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Tepco’s finances will be scrutinised to ensure it will do what it can to meet compensation estimated at several billions of dollars, and avoid passing the cost on to the public in the form of a rise in electricity rates.
Under Tepco’s current restructuring programme, executives have to forego their annual remuneration, while ordinary workers have a 20% pay cut.
Other restructuring steps may include the separation of Tepco’s power generation and distribution functions.