Apr 23, 2014, 8:30 pm (BST)
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Japan wants to replace TEPCO board
TOKYO, Feb 25 (BSS/AFP) - Japan's government wants to replace the entire board of the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in exchange for $12 billion of tax money to resuscitate the firm, a report said Saturday.

Authorities are planning to remove all 17 board members of giant private utility Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) at a shareholder meeting in June and name an outsider as the new chairman, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

TEPCO is trying to remain private while Industry Minister Yukio Edano has demanded management control in exchange for one trillion yen ($12 billion) in help.

The company, which expects to lose 695 billion yen ($8.95 billion) in the year to March, faces huge compensation claims as a result of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was hit by last March's tsunami.

The government is moving to take a stake of two-thirds or more in the regional monopoly that serves Tokyo and the surrounding area, the Mainichi said without citing sources.

Edano has pushed to reform the utility, which may not be able to continue as a going concern without public money but is seen as slow to change.

Meanwhile, major banks and insurance firms are expected to approve fresh loans totalling $13.2 billion, or 1.07 trillion yen, for TEPCO on condition it hikes power bills and resumes nuclear power generation, the Nikkei business daily said.

Edano and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda have recently begun speaking about the need to restart nuclear reactors after making sure they are safe to operate, despite wide public opposition to atomic power.

Only two of Japan's 54 commercial reactors remain on the grid, and they will be turned off by the end of April for scheduled inspections, prompting experts to warn of possible power shortages during the summer.
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