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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shimizu fails to deliver ideas to stabilize reactor

Tepco chief vows to stay at helm


STAFF WRITER

A day after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was raised to the level of Chernobyl, Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Masataka Shimizu offered apologies but was unable to outline specific ideas or plans to stabilize the situation.

News photo
Masataka Shimizu

"Again, we deeply apologize to residents around the plant and Fukushima Prefecture, our customers, shareholders and people in society for causing concern and trouble," Shimizu said Wednesday at a news conference at company headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward.

Based on the International Nuclear Event Scale devised by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the government's industry watchdog, raised the level from 5 to 7, considered a "major accident," on Tuesday, based on the amount of radioactive material emitted.

"Our company is currently facing the most severe crisis in the history of the company. Under this situation, my biggest responsibility is to make every effort to stabilize the situation, support people affected by the accident and stably supply electricity," Shimizu said, adding now is not the time to comment on his resignation.

Even as concern mounts over the seemingly endless nuclear crisis, Tepco has been unable to say how or when it can control the situation or lower the temperature of the reactors to less than 100 degrees to stabilize the fuel rods.

While the amount of compensation for people affected by the nuclear crisis is expected to be huge, Shimizu said the company will talk to the government and offer appropriate compensation in accordance with the law.

During the news conference, reporters' questions were also focused on Shimizu's capability as president. Shimizu was hospitalized from March 29 to April 6 due to dizziness and high blood pressure. He also fell sick on March 16 and had to briefly leave the liaison office set up to handle the crisis with the government.

Since March 11, Shimizu has held three news conferences including Wednesday's. Many reporters have expressed frustration with the reclusive chief and questioned why he has not made himself more available to the media.



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The Japan Times

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