Tepco asks for public money

 
Marion Dakers
TOKYO Electric Power Company (Tepco) asked for government funding yesterday as it admitted that it would not be able to fund a clean-up at its stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Tepco said it wanted to remain a publicly-listed company, but added that emergency loans of 2 trillion yen (£15bn) from the country’s banks were not enough to cover costs in the wake of Japan’s worst nuclear accident, caused by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

The firm’s shares tanked 17 per cent yesterday, taking the stock to its lowest level in almost half a century.

Workers are still struggling to bring the Fukushima Daiichi reactors under control. Units 1, 2 and 3 still need water pumped into the tanks to prevent the nuclear rods from being exposed and risking further meltdown.

Tepco said publicly for the first time yesterday that four of the six Daiichi reactors are beyond repair.

The president of Tepco, Masataka Shimizu, was yesterday taken to hospital with stress-related symptoms.

The Japanese authorities said in a briefing with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) yesterday they are monitoring radioactive contamination in soil to prevent potential food safety risks and would provide the WTO with quick and precise information.

“In return, Japan asked members not to overreact,” said a WTO official.

French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is due to arrive in Japan today, becoming the first foreign leader to visit since the disaster earlier this month that killed more than 11,000 people according to the latest official figures.