* Tepco revival plan sees Kashiwazaki restarts in July
* Trade minister says utility must remain cautious about
* Trade minister: Decommission, evacuees compensation are
By Mari Saito and Kentaro Hamada
TOKYO, Jan 15 Japan's trade ministry on
Wednesday approved a revival plan for the utility responsible
for the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Co
, its second attempt at restoring its battered finances.
The plan hinges on Tokyo Electric (Tepco) restarting its
Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant to cut fossil fuel costs, a
contentious undertaking staunchly opposed by the local
An earlier plan by Tepco outlining a revival after its
Fukushima plant was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in
2011, triggering triple meltdowns at the site, had to be torn up
because it could not restart Kashiwazaki.
"As for the restart of Kashiwazaki Kariwa ... this is simply
an assumption built into the financial plan," industry minister
Toshimitsu Motegi said as he gave formal approval of the plan to
Tepco President Naomi Hirose.
The previous revival plan revolved around a Kashiwazaki
restart in early 2013. The new plan envisages a restart of two
reactors at the station in July.
Motegi and Hirose said there may be a time lag between the
plan's assumption and any restarts.
The recovery of Fukushima prefecture, dealing with
compensation for those who lost homes and businesses and
decommissioning the damaged plant are national priorities,
Motegi told Hirose.
"Tepco will throw all available resources at taking
responsibility for Fukushima. We will compensate every last
person and the company has many things to do in order for
residents to return quickly," Hirose said.
The company, which is majority owned by the government after
an earlier bailout, said in the plan it may increase electricity
prices if there are long delays in the restart schedule.
The new plan sees deeper cost cuts and more staff reductions
than in the previous version. Tepco says it is aiming to report
recurring profit of 167.7 billion yen ($1.62 billion)in the year
through March 2015.
Tepco said it would seek savings on fuel purchases of 650
billion yen annually by buying supplies in partnership with
The disaster at Fukushima, the worst nuclear crisis since
Chernobyl in 1986, eventually brought about the halt of all
nuclear power plants in Japan so they could be vetted under
tougher new standards.
Opposition to atomic power remains strong in the country and
is set to become a major issue in an election next month for
governorship of metropolitan Tokyo, which owns a stake in Tepco.
Most candidates are opposed to restarting nuclear power
plants and one, former prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa has
received the strong backing from Junichiro Koizumi, one of
Japan's most popular leaders, who ruled between 2001 and 2006.
In the nearly three years since the disaster, the utility
has been plagued by a string of setbacks at the Fukushima
station north of Tokyo, including leaks of highly radioactive
water last year, prompting the government to step in with more
The local governor in Niigata, where Kashiwazaki is located,
has been a vocal opponent of Tepco's management and has
questioned whether the company has the ability to operate a
nuclear station, following the failings in its preparation and
response to the disaster. He has publicly called for the Tepco's