Fukushima & TEPCO Become Political Football

In a recent interview with a DPJ politician involved with the early response to the Fukushima disaster he stressed that TEPCO should be forced into bankruptcy or fully nationalized as the government has been forced to take over more of the disaster response.

He also pointed out that TEPCO had promised to implement an underground wall around the reactors in 2011 in exchange for the government not announcing the actual wall. This was all to manipulate TEPCO’s stock price out of company fears it would cause the company stock to tank. TEPCO later backed out on their promise to implement the wall after the company’s quarterly reports were released. TEPCO knew the wall was needed early on, went back on a promise to the government then failed to take any action for almost 2.5 years before dumping the project back on the government to implement and pay for.

The current head of METI (and LDP politician) tries to pass off blame for their failings on the DPJ who was in power before them. He claimed they had no information about the disaster when they took office. A claim that is hard to believe. He insists TEPCO being forced into bankruptcy would deny victims compensation payments. The government is currently paying those. They hope to eventually recover that money from TEPCO if they can get TEPCO to ever turn a profit again. METI head Motegi also tries to claim a TEPCO bankruptcy could interrupt power generation. He fails to mention that selling these assets off to another power company or turning those assets into publicly owned entities would not hurt power output and actually could make those services more stable. What Motegi fails to mention in his concern for keeping TEPCO on life support is that the main worry is for investors and the big banks that have loaned TEPCO money. In a bankruptcy these parties may lose their investments or see loans not repaid or only partially repaid. This has historically been LDP’s bigger motivation rather than the welfare of the people.

Motegi also tries to repeat Abe’s quickly criticized claim that the contamination at Daiichi is not actually leaking. He makes the same claim that the contaminated water is staying in a small section of the port. this has been known to not be accurate and even TEPCO denied it. Today TEPCO admitted that the silt fences for these areas are damaged. Even with the silt fences it has been estimated that 20% of the water in the port flows out to sea each day as the tides come in and out.

The DPJ knows what went on behind closed doors in 2011 as part of the response to the disaster. They seem ready to use it to score political points against the LDP. This all might have some benefit for the public if they can force the LDP to “do the right thing”.


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