Cabinet ministers on Saturday demanded that Tokyo Electric Power Co carry out further restructuring to secure funds for compensation payments over radiation leaks from its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials said.
But the ministers deferred to Sunday or later an agreement on creating a new entity to help the plant operator pay the compensation.
The plan being considered envisages setting up an entity to which TEPCO and eight other utilities that operate nuclear power plants in the country would contribute funds totaling around 300 billion yen annually.
Agreement was deferred on Saturday, possibly due to reservations about such a framework in some quarters as utilities could resort to charging more for electricity to secure funds for the envisaged entity.
Some ministers and ruling Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers have also voiced frustration with what they perceive as a lack of restructuring efforts on the part of TEPCO, arguing the utility needs to be temporarily nationalized to ensure that all those affected by the nuclear disaster will be compensated.
Under the plan, TEPCO would be required in principle to shoulder all of the compensation. But a special law is being eyed to create a new entity that would make up for any shortfall using contributions from the nuclear plant operators.
Ever since the tsunami caused by the March 11 earthquake crippled its nuclear reactors on March 11, the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been leaking radioactive substances, driving residents near the plant out of their homes and damaging the agriculture, livestock and fishery industries in the region amid fears of radioactive contamination.