Niigata, March 25 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> President Tomoaki Kobayakawa on Thursday offered an apology to Hideyo Hanazumi, governor of Niigata Prefecture, over a series of security flaws at the firm’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the central Japan prefecture.
“I sincerely apologize for causing great concern,” Kobayakawa told Hanazumi in their meeting at the prefectural government office in the city of Niigata, the prefecture’s capital. “We will make all-out efforts to identify the causes (of the flaws) and advance drastic reforms,” he said.
Hanazumi criticized TEPCO, saying that the problems, including insufficient measures to protect the facility against possible terror attacks, “seriously damaged Niigata residents’ trust” in the company.
It now seems very difficult for the company to win consent from local communities to the restart of a reactor at the power station, located between the city of Kashiwazaki and the village of Kariwa, as TEPCO’s sloppy management of the nuclear plant has drawn strong criticism from people in the prefecture.
“The current situation makes us question” the qualification of the company as a nuclear power plant operator, the governor said. “Having heard your words (of apology and pledge), I now want you to put what you said into action and achieve results,” he added.
Kobayakawa said, “We will rebuild the power plant with a determination that we should be reborn.”
Later in the day, Kobayakawa attended a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Niigata prefectural chapter to give an explanation on the series of problems.
Mineo Ono, secretary-general of the local chapter, condemned TEPCO, saying, “We have no other choice but to say that the company has done nothing in the 10 years after the accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.”
Heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, caused the worst nuclear accident in the country.
Ono urged the company to think about what it should do from now on while keeping in mind the possibility of withdrawing from the operations of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
Following the revelation of the problems at the plant, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has decided to ban TEPCO from moving nuclear fuel at the plant.
Kobayakawa is scheduled to meet with Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai and Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada on Friday.
The Niigata prefectural assembly is expected to summon Kobayakawa next month to testify over the series of issues.