TEPCO seeks new billions from Japan

Story highlights

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. is asking the Japanese government for about $22 billion
  • The company is reeling from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster
  • Analysts say it the accident may cost up to 10 trillion yen ($120 billion)
Japan's largest utility asked the government for 1 trillion yen ($12 billion) in fresh capital Thursday to stay solvent as it faces enormous compensation costs for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co. is also seeking another 800 billion yen ($10 billion) from a government fund to help it compensate people affected by the Fukushima Daiichi accident, including the estimated 100,000-plus people displaced. It has already requested more than 1.7 trillion yen from that fund.
TEPCO supplies power to nearly 30 million people in the Tokyo region and was once valued at more than $150 billion. But the nuclear disaster that followed Japan's historic earthquake in March 2011 has left it reeling and dependent on government support. The Japanese government has set no ceiling on compensation, and some analysts estimate the company may end up owing more than 10 trillion yen.
The tsunami that followed last year's magnitude-9 quake swamped the Fukushima Daiichi plant, knocking out power to cooling systems and leading to meltdowns in its three operating reactors. The resulting release of radioactivity forced residents of several towns near the plant to flee their homes, and a 20-kilometer (12.5-mile) zone around the plant remains closed to the public.