Tokyo (AFP) May 13, 2011
Japan on Friday decided on a scheme to ensure Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) can compensate tens of thousands of people affected by the crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, reports said.
The scheme will involve use of public funds and put TEPCO, one of the world's biggest power companies, under effective government supervision, according to Jiji Press and Kyodo News agencies.
The government will also set up a panel of experts from legal and business fields to supervise TEPCO management and inspect assets, Jiji said.
The scheme reportedly envisions creating a public-private organisation, which will be funded by contributions from power companies and government bonds that carry no interest but can be cashed whenever necessary.
Jiji Press news agency said the bonds would be worth five trillion yen ($62 bn).
The new organisation will make financial assistance to TEPCO, including a purchase of shares in the beleaguered company, which will be used for compensation to the affected people, Jiji and the Nikkei business daily said.
Compensation is expected to be huge, reaching several trillion yen (tens of billions of dollars).
TEPCO will repay borrowed money from the organisation gradually, possibly 100-200 billion yen every year, Jiji said.
The cooling systems of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant in the northeastern Pacific coast were crippled by the March 11 tsunami following Japan's biggest recorded earthquake.
It caused reactors to overheat, triggering explosions and the ongoing release of radioactive materials.
The worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from their houses, businesses and farms in a 20-kilometre (12-mile) radius around the plant.
TEPCO submitted a formal request for state aid Tuesday, saying it faced funding problems.
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