On Jan. 11, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said that it expects Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO) will handle the restart of reactors nos. 6 and 7 of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant (Niigata Prefecture) alone rather than through a consortium formed through restructuring and consolidation with other power companies. The latter had been mentioned in a proposal submitted by METI’s blue-ribbon panel called the “Committee for Reforming TEPCO and Overcoming 1F (Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station) Challenges” (TEPCO Committee).
A METI Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) official announced this at the regular meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority held the same day. At the end of last year, the TEPCO Committee issued a proposal for TEPCO reform that included restructuring the company’s nuclear power operations with other power companies.
Regarding the restructuring of TEPCO’s nuclear power operations, the ANRE official explained, “The proposal talks about overseas expansion in the future, but creating a spinoff from TEPCO is not being discussed in concrete terms at this time.” That same day, some at TEPCO made statements in line with the METI idea of having TEPCO handle the restarts singlehandedly: “For the reactors to be restarted, it is critical that TEPCO take responsibility and gain the understanding of local residents.”
At a meeting with TEPCO Chairman Fumio Sudo, Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama was cautious about restarting the two reactors, saying, “In the present circumstances, I cannot accept the restart.” A TEPCO source said, “Unless TEPCO restores ties of trust with the local residents, it will not be able to talk about restarting the reactors and it is doubtful that any operators will step forward looking to join hands with TEPCO.”