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ECONOMY > Energy

Interview of METI Minister Seko: TEPCO ‘s priority is regaining trust

  • August 10, 2016
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 7
  • Translation

Q: Kagoshima Prefectural Governor Satoshi Mitazono intends to demand that the Kyushu Electric Power Company suspend operations at the Sendai nuclear power plant.


Seko: I understand that Governor Mitazono intends to do so, but I would like to speak with him when the time is right.


Q: It has been revealed that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) purposefully avoided using the word “meltdown,” in an attempt to conceal the actual situation at the time of the incident involving Fukushima’s Reactor 1. In response, local governments hosting nuclear power plants, such as Niigata Prefecture, are sharpening their attacks against TEPCO.


Seko: I believe it is very important to educate local governments before restarting operations of the suspended nuclear power plants. It is vital for TEPCO to become a trustworthy company.


Q: Within the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage, it’s unclear whether the state or the electric power company will compensate for damages resulting from a nuclear accident. Although the government examined the matter at the vice ministers’ meetings, which you [Seko] chaired as then deputy chief cabinet secretary, it was unable to make a determination.


Seko: The vice ministers concluded that an expert panel should deliberate on the matter. Experts of a technical advisory group of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission [of the Cabinet Office] have been examining the matter since last year. I believe they will come up with a conclusion at some point.


Q: U.S. presidential candidates oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.


Seko: At the TPP leaders’ meeting where the general agreement was reached, all participating countries affirmed that they would proceed with domestic approval. Japan will sincerely uphold its commitment and I would like to ask the Diet to approve the TPP as soon as possible. As the U.S. government also made an international commitment, it is natural for Washington to have Congress deliberate on the matter before approving it.


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