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MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) - 05/02/2013

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(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The Japanese government on Monday approved a fresh injection of JPY 696.8 billion (USD 7.5 billion) in public funds to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to help the utility pay massive compensation to those affected by its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011 without going bankrupt.

With the new assistance, the amount of government financial aid for cash-strapped TEPCO through the state-backed the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund will total JPY 3.24 trillion (USD 34.9 billion).

In addition, the government last year provided a JPY 1 trillion (USD 10.8 billion) public bailout for TEPCO as part of a 10-year restructuring plan to help the country's biggest utility. Since July last year, TEPCO has been under effective state control in exchanging of receiving a capital injection from the
government fund.

Besides massive compensation costs, TEPCO currently relies on relatively expensive fossil-fuel-fired plants to make up the loss of nuclear power as most of Japan's 50 working reactors are offline in the wake of the Fukushima accident. The utility is also expected to face huge expenses stemming from scrapping the Fukushima plant's four crippled reactors, which could take more than 30 years.

On Monday, TEPCO said it expects to log a group net loss of JPY 120 billion (USD 1.3 billion) for the full fiscal year ending March, much bigger than the previously forecast loss of JPY 45 billion (USD 4.9 billion), citing higher fuel costs and compensation.

The Fukushima nuclear plant, 230 km north of Tokyo, was severely damaged by tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and 15-meter tsunami in March 2011 that left nearly 19,000 people dead or missing in the northeastern region.

The twin natural disasters knocked out the plant's cooling systems, sparking reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks.

The worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 also forced tens of thousands of residents around the plant to evacuate and damaged the agriculture, livestock and fishery industries in the region.


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