28 Juin 2016
June 28, 2016
Shareholders urged nine power companies Tuesday to end nuclear power generation, reflecting safety concerns lingering since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
However, the proposals were turned down at the firms’ shareholders meetings.
The companies, including Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, are seeking to reactivate their plants.
At its shareholders meeting Tuesday, Tepco’s recently revealed instruction not to use the term “core meltdown” in describing the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in the early days of the crisis drew criticism from shareholders and company President Naomi Hirose apologized over the matter.
“I apologize for causing trouble and anxiety,” Hirose told the meeting.
Referring to the incident, one shareholder said at the meeting, “It was a cover-up. I am infuriated. All nuclear reactors should be scrapped.”
Some shareholders of Kyushu Electric Power Co. demanded that the utility halt operations of its nuclear reactors after the Nos. 1 and 2 units at its Sendai complex in Kagoshima Prefecture were brought back online last year.
Its shareholders meeting Tuesday was the first since the reactors were restarted.
Kyushu Electric Power President Michiaki Uriu told the meeting that the company returned to the black for the first time in five years in the fiscal year ended March 2016 thanks in part to the reactivation of the two reactors.
As for the idled No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture, he said: “We are aiming at resumption as soon as possible.”
Among other utilities, Shikoku Electric Power Co. is planning to resume operations at the No. 3 unit at the Ikata power plant in Ehime Prefecture in July.
Kansai Electric Power Co., which mainly serves western Japan, said it will seek an early restart of its nuclear power plants to bring down power costs.
The company suspended operation of the No. 3 unit at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture following a court injunction in March to stop the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors. The No. 4 unit was already offline at the time of the court order due to a technical issue.
“It is time to depart from nuclear power dependency by taking to heart the lessons learned from the nuclear accident at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant,” Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa told Kansai Electric’s shareholders meeting.
Among the many shareholders seeking an end to nuclear power generation, some questioned the justification for continued reliance on nuclear plants, while others voiced worries over what would happen in the event of larger earthquakes than the plant designers budgeted for.
A total of 73 proposals were made by shareholders to the nine utilities. In addition to calls to end nuclear power generation, there were also proposals to give up the nuclear fuel cycle in which plutonium is extracted through spent fuel reprocessing — a program pursued by the power industry and the government.
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Japan's nine major electric power companies faced renewed calls to end their dependence on nuclear energy at their annual shareholders' meetings on June 28.
However, as such proposals require approval by a two-thirds majority of shareholders with voting rights for passage, all were expected to be rejected.
A total of 73 motions from shareholders were submitted at the meetings of the nine utilities. Many called on the companies to leave nuclear power generation.
But executives again stressed the need for nuclear plants to turn a profit.
At the shareholders' meeting held by Kyushu Electric Power Co., President Michiaki Uriu said: "We have been able to secure a profit due to the resumption of operations at nuclear plants and a large decrease in fuel costs. We will work toward an early resumption of operations at the Genkai nuclear plant (in Saga Prefecture)."
Kyushu Electric Power resumed operations last year at two reactors of the Sendai nuclear power plant in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, in southern Kyushu.
Kansai Electric Power Co. also resumed operations at two reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture in central Japan this year, but the Otsu District Court issued a temporary injunction to halt them.
"We will make every effort to gain the understanding of society, starting with local residents," President Makoto Yagi said at the Kansai Electric Power shareholders' meeting on June 28. "Nuclear plants are an important energy source from the standpoint of economics and environmental issues. We will implement a cut in electricity rates as soon as possible through an early resumption of operations."
At the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. meeting, President Naomi Hirose said: "We will proceed with measures to allow us to work on the important corporate issue of resuming operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant (in Niigata Prefecture)."
Hirose also apologized for a delay in announcing that meltdowns had occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck in March 2011.
Members of the Nuclear Phase-Out TEPCO Shareholder's Movement handed out fliers in front of the venue for the TEPCO meeting.
Yui Kimura, 63, a leading member of the group, criticized the revelation about covering up the meltdown at the Fukushima plant.
"TEPCO is trying to resume operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant without taking responsibility for the accident," Kimura said.
Another shareholder, Fusako Iwata, 66, from Gifu Prefecture, said: "At that time, the public believed without question what the central government and TEPCO said. We will not be deceived again."