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TEPCO shareholders' meeting starts off tumultuously.

TOKYO, June 27 Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s meeting of shareholders started off tumultuously Wednesday morning, with individual shareholders interrupting proceedings and its largest stockholder coming to the fore to press the utility to reform itself following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.

The company known as TEPCO is seeking approval for changes in its articles of incorporation necessary to receive a planned 1 trillion yen injection of public funds, which would effectively put the country's largest utility under state control.

At the outset of the annual meeting, outgoing Tokyo Electric Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata apologized over the nuclear crisis and vowed to "start afresh from zero" to restore public confidence.

The proceedings were interrupted a few times as shareholders proposed motions such as to seek the dismissal of the moderator, served by Katsumata.

Also on the agenda are votes on shareholder proposals, including those from the Tokyo metropolitan government, the largest shareholder with about a 2.7 percent stake.

It is the first time that TEPCO has faced a proposal from a municipal shareholder, suggesting a change in the behavior of local governments, often seen as "silent shareholders," amid growing public criticism of the utility's move to raise electricity rates for households.

The Tokyo metropolitan government proposed that TEPCO stipulate in its corporate rules that it will "put customer service first" as its management philosophy and ensure transparency in management by disclosing information over electricity retail prices.

Tokyo Vice Gov. Naoki Inose appeared at the meeting to explain the proposals, saying, "What is needed for TEPCO, which has to restart from zero, is this kind of change in its way of thinking."

A group of individual shareholders, meanwhile, proposed the utility's withdrawal from nuclear power generation, an attempt it has been making repeatedly.

The company's board of directors has made clear its oppositions to such shareholder proposals, and they are likely to be voted down as it appears difficult to muster enough support from other shareholders.

The company also sought for approval to select 11 board members including Kazuhiko Shimokobe, a lawyer who is set to become next chairman.

TEPCO has decided to revamp its management as it will receive taxpayers' money as part of a 10-year business plan aimed at helping the company overcome its financial plight following the world's worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Based on the restructuring plan, TEPCO will avoid insolvency and continue to deal with three key tasks -- paying trillions of yen in compensation related to the disaster, scrapping the Fukushima plant's crippled reactors and providing stable electricity supply to areas including Tokyo.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Date:Jul 2, 2012
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