Many local Japanese officials still on TEPCO payroll – Younger generations of TEPCO workers fear stable future work environment

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Tokyo Electric Power Co. is under fire for trying to raise consumers’ electricity bills before making sufficient efforts to streamline its management.  The Japanese government is set to take a majority stake in Tokyo Electric in return for injecting about 1 trillion yen ($12.4 billion) in public funds, the Asahi newspaper reported on Friday.  Citizens are also worried after a recent sequence of events that seem to show TEPCO appeared to be trying to strengthen its political influence by sending employees to prefectural and municipal assemblies.

The Japan Times reported on Tuesday that 19 members of various local legislatures are still on the payroll of Tepco.  The writer contacted Tatsuo Ishiguro, who was elected in April 2011, shortly after the Fukushima Disaster, and asked if he was still on Tepco’s payroll. When the writer said over the phone, “Your current relationship with Tepco,” he abruptly hung up saying, “I am too busy now.” It was subsequently confirmed that Ishiguro is still employed by Tepco and is receiving monthly wages from the company, receiving about ¥10 million plus ¥2.5 million to be used for “research” work related to his official duties as an assembly member, and another ¥15 million in 2010 from the political arm of the Tepco labor union.

Last December, the younger staff at TEPCO circulated a five-page document titled “Code Name: Hope” within TEPCO headquarters.  The younger staff was frustrated with the current lack of progress in creating a stable future for the company “where younger generations can follow their hopes and dreams” and had hoped to  “forestall government intervention and achieve a TEPCO-led reform program,” says one of the employees who worked on the Hope plan.

The plan outlined details for the nationalization of nuclear power plants and a hike in electricity charges.  The Hope plan also proposed breaking TEPCO’s power generation division into a state-run nuclear power generation company and four private thermal and hydraulic power generation companies, and splitting its fuel procurement and power transmission divisions into separate organizations.

It has now been learned that through the end of 2011 and into 2012, some TEPCO executives were hoping for the Japanese Government to be changed, and some view the Hope plan as a loud rebuke against the embattled utilities attempt to control it’s own destiny after the Fukushima Disaster.  The Mainichi is quoted as saying that “a generational battle is now raging within Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) over corporate restructuring.”

TEPCO executives received copies of the document but dismissed the proposal.  TEPCO and the government-controlled Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund are considering spinning off relevant sections so the four will each undertake thermal power generation and fuel procurement, electricity distribution, electricity retailing and corporate planning, Power Engineering reported.  TEPCO, which still faces billion dollar compensation claims, is set to be given a government bailout of 11 trillion yen ($137 billion) over the coming decade, and will be nationalized.

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