Last week, the inevitable finally happened. The company responsible for the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has been nationalized. Japan’s trade and industry minister Yukio Edano announced a de facto state take-over of the company with a further injection of $12.5bn, bringing the total of state capital in TEPCO to $33.2bn. Edano has said that: “Without the state funds, (TEPCO) cannot provide a stable supply of electricity and pay for compensation and decommissioning costs”.
The Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe has cost TEPCO over $100bn in estimated costs, which includes compensation and clean-up costs. However, the actual costs are much bigger. Many Japanese are bearing the brunt of the damages in their daily lives with most of their claims and losses going uncompensated and most of their suffering unrecognized.
The nationalization of TEPCO, together with a legal practice called “channeling of liability” in which all liability related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has to be channeled to TEPCO, means Japanese taxpayers and ratepayers will foot most of the bill.