Tepco’s shareholders decline to pursue GE for Fukushima claims

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) shareholders rejected a proposal to look into pursuing claims for compensation against companies that supplied parts for the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, including General Electric Co.

Shareholders at today’s annual general meeting for the company known as Tepco voted down the motion, proposed by Greenpeace, to study whether suppliers can be held liable for damages incurred during the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.

The proposal was one of 15 motions advanced today by Tepco investors, many of them aiming to raise funds for the company that has so far been granted 3.79 trillion yen ($38.9 billion) by the government to settle compensation claims from the nuclear disaster. Other proposals included relocating Tepco headquarters so its current building can be sold, and to cut employee bonuses and board member salaries. All were rejected.

“It is very important to find how much GE knew about issues that may lead to accidents and how much GE has tried to remedy them in order to find cause of the accident and to determine responsibility,” Greenpeace campaigner Ayako Sekine said at the meeting. “At this moment, only Tepco is paying the compensation. But this isn’t enough for the victims to reestablish their lives.”

Tepco’s board had recommended that shareholders reject the measure, arguing that there was no clear basis to pursue claims.

Turnaround Plan

The March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that caused meltdowns and radiation leaks at Tepco’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station forced the utility to seek a government bailout to help meet costs for compensation and damages.

Tepco, which had a 685.3 billion yen loss last fiscal year, said in a turnaround strategy released May 2012 that it would return to profit by the end of the current fiscal year if it pursued a plan that includes restarting its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear station.

Tepco President Naomi Hirose said yesterday that the company had not yet decided whether to seek the plant’s restart when Japan’s nuclear regulator begins inspections on July 8. All but two of Japan’s 50 reactors are idled for the safety assessments after the accident at the Fukushima plant, which caused the evacuation of 160,000 people.

Shareholders today rejected a motion to decommission the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant and the Fukushima Dai-Ni plant about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from the tsunami-damaged Dai-Ichi station.

The only item approved at the shareholder session was the appointment of its 11 directors. Tepco said 2,090 shareholders attended the meeting, which lasted for 3 hours and 41 minutes, today at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo. There were 4,471 attendees at the meeting last year.