Japan’s utilities reject anti-nuclear demands from shareholders

The Asahi Shimbun | KATSUHEI KAWAMURA/ Staff Writer | June 26, 2014

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Yui Kimura calls for the abolition of nuclear power in front of the building where Tokyo Electric Power Co. held its shareholders’ meeting on June 26. (Sayaka Yamaguchi)

All nine electric power companies that operate nuclear plants rejected shareholders’ proposals to close down the facilities, citing new safety measures and the need to quickly restart their reactors.

It was the first time anti-nuclear proposals were presented to all nine companies at their shareholders’ meetings. Hokuriku Electric Power Co. had until now received no such request.

However, passing such changes requires support representing at least two-thirds of votes from shareholders who took part in the meetings. Large shareholders, such as banks, voted against the proposals.

The utilities all held their annual shareholders’ meetings on June 26.

During Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s meeting in the Marunouchi district of the capital, Yui Kimura, 61, a leading member of the Nuclear Phase-out TEPCO Shareholders Movement, demanded the company appoint three well-known anti-nuclear experts as its directors.

“TEPCO is a company that is surviving with taxpayers’ money,” she said. “It is urgent for the firm to choose directors who can push through in-house reforms.”

Kimura also noted that three years have passed since the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“I suspect that TEPCO is returning to its former arrogant ways,” she said.

The three names she submitted were: Shigeaki Koga, 58, a former industry ministry bureaucrat; Hiroyuki Kawai, 70, a lawyer representing plaintiffs seeking a nuclear-free Japan; and Tetsunari Iida, 55, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies.

“Those supporting the promotion of nuclear power generation have grown stronger by overcoming objections (to atomic energy) and by improving their systems (for nuclear power generation),” Koga said. “Anti-nuclear people will be unable to counter them unless they present new ideas, such as showing how economic conditions and livelihoods will improve through the promotion of renewable energies.”

TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said at the meeting that the utility is currently preparing to restart idled reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.

“We are promoting safety measures, such as construction of sea walls,” Hirose said.

Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric Power Co., noted progress in the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screening of two offline reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

“We will make the utmost effort to pass the screening to restart the reactors as early as possible,” he said.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. is facing financial difficulties due to the suspension of operations at its sole nuclear power plant.

“In the not-so-distant future, we will decide to apply for another hike in electricity bills,” said Katsuhiko Kawai, president of Hokkaido Electric.

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