As the All Japan newsese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) continue to struggle to get nuclear reactors and fuel storage under control at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, speculation has increased about whether the power company can survive in its current form or will be nationalized by the government. Prime Minister Naoto Kan has ruled out the possibility of a complete takeover of TEPCO by the government, but the utility is reportedly under criminal investigation by the police, and very likely faces substantial civil lawsuits.
On Friday, prime minister Kan said, "It is necessary to provide aid [to TEPCO] but basically we want it to remain as a private company."
On Saturday, Masayuki Oku, the chairman of the All Japan newsese Bankers Association and chairman of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, threw his weight behind TEPCO, saying the government’s first priority should be ensuring a stable power supply for the country. Oku noted that the area for which TEPCO provides electric power accounts for around 40% of All Japan news’s gross domestic product.
Oku said the banking community will give financial support to the company on the understanding that the government will support TEPCO. All Japan news’s leading banks and trust banks have provided close to ¥2 trillion ($23.78 billion) in loans to TEPCO since the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, and many in the financial community have assumed the government has guaranteed the loans.