It has often been pointed out that TEPCO has been badly managed for years and that it caused the triple meltdown of its reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. So, I attended the 90th Annual General Meeting of TEPCO to see if management has improved in the three plus years since the disaster. Sadly they haven't.
About 2,100 shareholders attended TEPCO's annual general meeting. They saw on the stage 20 management men, all in black suits, no women.
Greenpeace Japan went to the meeting with a clear theme in mind. We held a peaceful protest at the venue with banners that read: TEPCO: PAY VICTIMS, NO RESTART.
But the men in black suits are so pitiful they don't deserve to be in business. Here's why:
- They still haven't helped their victims – at least 130,000 people still live in limbo after TEPCO's Fukushima disaster suddenly destroyed their lives. More than three years later, they still fear for their and their families' health condition.
- TEPCO's terrible management caused the Fukushima disaster but they will not fully accept the blame.
- The company is focusing a lot of effort on trying to restart reactors, instead of helping victims or cleaning up the radioactive mess at Fukushima.
That's what was behind our TEPCO: PAY VICTIMS, NO RESTART message.
Last year at this meeting, Greenpeace asked the leaders to investigate the accident. This year, I directly questioned new Chairman Mr. Fumio Sudo and asked if the investigation has been done and what have they found out? In particular I wanted to know about the companies that supplied TEPCO with reactors for Fukushima. What was the role of TEPCO's suppliers in the cause or extent of the nuclear disaster.
First, Takafumi Anegawa, Director in charge of nuclear, said: "We have been investigating in the cause of the disaster. So far we found nothing that involves suppliers responsibility." The same reply as last year.
Then Mr Sudo added: "I believe that suppliers' responsibility is very significant. I would like to deal with the matter of this question from management point of view." This is something new, not heard at last year's AGM.
Last year, 110,000 people from around the world signed up to call for holding TEPCO's supplier companies responsible to the disaster. Their products were part of the disaster. So far, the main suppliers, GE, Hitachi, and Toshiba, have accepted no responsibility as reactor suppliers of Fukushima Daiichi. And they haven't provided any help for the victims of their disaster.
TEPCO, once the biggest electricity utility in the world, become nearly bankrupt because of its nuclear business (i.e. Fukushima disaster), yet they seem still to have full trust in nuclear power. An amazed shareholder pointed that out and questioned why they keep trusting nuclear.
TEPCO has also reported that it is looking at the electricity market in Europe to earn income to support its business. Well, I wonder how many people want to do business with a company that cannot deal with its own disaster after three years yet still blindly believes in the same business model (i.e. nuclear).
What should TEPCO do now? Listen to the message of our banner and pay victims fair compensation and stop spending so much of its efforts on restarting its other reactors.
Hisayo Takada is a Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.