Tokyo Electric Power Co., battling the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, climbed to a seven-week high after a senior government official said he knows nothing about a proposal to split the company and a rival utility got initial approval to restart reactors.
The power producer known as Tepco rose about 20 percent to close at 393 yen in Tokyo trading, the highest since May 16. The gain was the biggest since June 15, when the stock surged 32 percent. The benchmark Topix index advanced 1.2 percent.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in Tokyo today that he wasn’t aware of a plan to break up Tepco. Yoshito Sengoku, Edano’s deputy, may propose splitting the company and nationalizing its nuclear power operations following the March 11 accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station, the Mainichi newspaper reported yesterday, citing a government document.
Tepco officials said today it restarted the 600-megawatt No. 1 unit at its Hirono thermal-power plant in Fukushima prefecture yesterday and that a self-contained cooling system that uses recycled water to douse reactors at its crippled Dai-Ichi nuclear station has been working without a hitch for three days.
The mayor of Genkai town, Hideo Kishimoto, today approved Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s plan to start two reactors idled for maintenance, the first step to resuming operation of the units.
Should the reactors start, they will be the first to come back on line after an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling at Tepco’s Dai-Ichi plant, causing three units to melt down.
The accident, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago, has raised concerns about the safety of atomic power plants in Japan, one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.