I hope there will be a foreign reporter who is also a reader of this blog, and he/she will ask TEPCO's new president why TEPCO is still banning independent journalist Ryuichi Kino from the regular press conferences because he transmitted TEPCO's shareholders meeting via audio using his smartphone on June 27, 2012.
Independent journalists attending TEPCO's regular press conferences have started asking why TEPCO has singled out Kino and banned him from the press conference, while ignoring (or pretending it doesn't know about) major TV stations broadcasting the video taken at the same shareholders' meeting. I have even seen a reporter from a major newspaper asking the question. According to TEPCO, both video and audio recording of their shareholders' meeting is prohibited (by them, not by any law or regulation).
For more about Kino's plight, see my post from July 6, 2012.
From the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan's Event Calendar, a rather dramatic announcement of the event:
P/C Naomi Hirose, President of TEPCOEvent Type :
PRESS CONFERENCE Naomi Hirose, President, Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc.(TEPCO) Junichi Matsumoto, General Manager, Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division (Corporate Communications)
The speech and Q & A will be in English and Japanese with English interpretation
Description :PRESS CONFERENCENaomi Hirose,President, Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc.(TEPCO)Juichi Matsumoto, General Manager,Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Devision (Corporate Communications)
13:30-14:45 Thursday, July 19, 2012(The speech and Q & A will be in English and Japanese with English interpretation)
Who would want Naomi Hirose’s job? The newly elected president of battered utility Tokyo Electric Power Co. takes over a company that is technically bankrupt, disgraced and despised by many people around the world. Recovering from the Fukushima nuclear disaster will consume the company for years to come as it struggles with the enormously complicated task of decommissioning the stricken Daiichi plant, pay out billions in compensation and somehow rehabilitate its tattered reputation.
True to form for a company that has often seemed Teflon-coated with its own brand of confidence, Tepco has come out fighting. Hirose has announced that his top mission is restarting the Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world's largest nuclear power complex. The Niigata plant has already been rocked by a serious accident. Five years ago an earthquake struck almost underneath the seven-reactor, 8200-megawatt behemoth. Many would like it to stay permanently offline along with Japan's other mothballed reactors. However Hirose believes the restart is vital to the revival of his company, and Japan.
That only scratches the surface of Tepco's battles. The company has received a reported 1 trillion yen in bailout money from the state, effectively nationalizing it. Will that money ever be paid back, and can Tepco decouple itself from state control? Can it deal with the bitter criticism of its compensation process and end the suffering of the estimated 200,000+ people forced to evacuate from Fukushima? And amidst all that, how will it sell a 10-percent rate hike to the Japanese public?
The man with this giant burden on his shoulders is a former managing director of the firm. He spent years in sales before working his way to the top. His loyalty to the utility is not in doubt. "I personally like Tepco," he said after his appointment in May. "It is unbearable for me to abandon the company as it is." But many observers believe he is already living on borrowed time – one called him a "sacrificial lamb." Come along and hear him discuss the future of the utility.
Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.
Who will want Hirose's job? Probably many people. I don't think the president that Hirose replaced wanted to go; he had just been installed at the top after Shimizu departed at the last year's shareholders' meeting. The company is effectively backstopped by the national government. Why worry? Living on borrowed time? So? A cushy amakudari job will wait for him.