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TEPCO seeks screening to restart nuclear reactors with eye on grim financial status via The Mainichi

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has announced it will ask the Nuclear Regulation Authority as early as July 8 to assess two reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant to restart them.

TEPCO’s hurried move stems from its grim financial situation. The utility has already registered pretax losses for two consecutive fiscal years, and if it also suffers a loss for the current business year ending March 2014, its loans could be severed under contracts it has with financial institutions.

Financial institutions have pressured TEPCO to restore its balance of payments to health either by restarting nuclear reactors under its control or by increasing electricity rates again. In a news conference, TEPCO President Naomi Hirose stated that if no nuclear power plants were operational, then it would be “impossible” to retain current electricity rates.

However, placing a heavier burden on household finances by increasing electricity prices could slow down the economy and affect a consumption tax increase slated for next April — on which the government is set to make a final decision as early as this coming autumn.

One TEPCO executive commented, “We can’t have a situation in which we are causing trouble for the consumption tax hike or Abenomics.”

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is the only major political party in Japan that has taken up the line of promoting the restart of nuclear reactors in its campaign pledge for this month’s House of Councillors election.

Commenting on TEPCO’s latest move, one LDP lawmaker stated, “Advancing one step toward restarting the reactors is in line with party opinion.”

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