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Angry shareholders fail to close TEPCO nuclear reactors

Angry shareholders fail to close TEPCO nuclear reactors
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Tokyo Electric Power Company has held its first annual shareholders’ meeting since the nuclear disaster caused by the tsunami in March and it was a stormy affair, with 10,000 investors on hand – three times the number that attended last year’s gathering.

There were protests from environmentalists outside and at the meeting itself some shareholders called on the company to abandon nuclear power – a proposal that was voted down.

That would have forced managers to scrap all nuclear reactors and stop building new ones, reflecting a wider debate in Japan and other countries over the future of atomic power generation.

During the six-hour meeting shareholders shouting at managers over their handling of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster and the company’s subsequent slide to near bankruptcy.

One attendee suggested the board “jump into the reactors and die,” before being forced by security guards to sit down. Another said the board would have been forced to perform ritual disembowelment had they lived in an era when such actions were deemed necessary to preserve honour.

The Fukushima disaster has erased close to 90 percent of the value of TEPCO stock, once considered a safe investment. In May, the company reported an annual loss of 10.4 billion euros.

TEPCO’s biggest shareholders – including Japanese financial institutions – rejected the call to close all its nuclear plants which generate nearly a third of the company’s electricity.

“We lost today to the big investors, but our message was heard,” said Masafumi Asada, a 70-year-old from Fukushima, who introduced the anti-nuclear proposal on behalf of a group of 402 shareholders.