Japan May Nationalize Nuclear Power Plants, Edano Tells Yomiuri

Japan’s government will consider taking control of the country’s atomic power stations unless private utilities assume more responsibility for the risks involved in their operations, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing Trade and Industry minister Yukio Edano.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other atomic plant operators have benefited from lower operating costs, yet the government is stepping in to help compensate those affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Edano said in an interview, according to the Yomiuri.

Japan’s government needs to decide whether to nationalize nuclear power stations and assume the risks of accidents or make the country’s utilities pay higher insurance premiums and shoulder any costs themselves, Edano was cited as saying.

Tokyo Electric is being supported by a government fund to avoid insolvency as it compensates those who lost their homes and livelihoods after the disaster at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic station. A government panel in October said Tokyo Electric may have to pay 4.5 trillion yen ($58 billion) in compensation payments by 2013.

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