Japan to consider nationalizing TEPCO

A technician shows with a pen the Fukushima nuclear power plant on a screen displaying a satellite image of Japan after the earthquake.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: There's a push for the Japanese government to take temporary ownership of that badly-damaged nuclear power plant. And because of the loss of the power plant, the government wants to look at turning off the power to factories for short periods of time.

The BBC's Mark Worthington is with us from Tokyo. Hi Mark.

MARK WORTHINGTON: Hi Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: How does big industry feel about the possibility of having to limit power usage?

WORTHINGTON: Well, interestingly, it's big business itself that's really floated this idea in the very first instance. Right now, many are having to deal with rolling black outs. They do get advanced warning, but it's quite unpredictable and they're losing power for up to three hours at a time. And they're finding that very difficult to cope with.

CHIOTAKIS: Do we have any idea if a plan like this would work, and how it would affect production?

WORTHINGTON: The idea would be to limit power within a peak period, and it would obviously mean slowing production during that time but what large factories would tell you would be that that would be preferable to a total outage which means they have to shut down the entire operation.

CHIOTAKIS: We're talking about Japan taking the extraordinary step of nationalizing TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company -- the owner of that nuclear plant at Fukushima. How would that work?

WORTHINGTON: Well, what it would mean would be essentially a rescue by the government of a company who's seen it's seen its share price plummet since the disaster. What everyone is saying here, all the authorities is that the company needs to be able to focus on dealing with the incident in Fukushima, not worrying about its own future. And that would be the idea behind it. To take hold of the company as a temporary measure to help it through this crisis.

CHIOTAKIS: And it would be just temporary right?

WORTHINGTON: That's all we're hearing at the moment, and something that the government doesn't want to dwell on when there's such oppressing crisis.

CHIOTAKIS: All right. The BBC's Mark Worthington in Tokyo. Mark thanks.

WORTHINGTON: You're welcome Steve.

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