The President of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu, is being urged to stand down as the crisis at its nuclear plant in Fukushima shows no sign of abating, and with $26 billion erased from the company’s market value since he took office, Bloomberg reports.A 43-year veteran of TEPCO, Shimizu became the company’s chief in 2008. Since then, the utility’s share price has tumbled by 67%, much of that in the wake of the disaster in Fukushima.
According to Bloomberg, “that’s the worst performance of any of the 88 members of the MSCI World Utilities Index and of the 17 companies in the Topix Electric Power & Gas Index.”
Shimizu has not been seen in public since March 13, but the company says he’s taken charge in the response to the crisis within TEPCO HQ.
[T]ook a week off from the joint task force that had been set up by the government and the company, the Mainichi Shimbun daily said, citing company officials. “He was not at the task force but (was) still collecting information at the headquarters (in Tokyo), giving instructions,” a Tepco spokesman was quoted saying by the Mainichi daily.
But another Tepco employee, described as a senior official, said Mr Shimizu had been so sick that he had stayed ‘mostly in bed’ in a separate room in the building where the task force was meeting, the newspaper said.
Shimizu and other TEPCO leaders have been lambasted for their response to the disaster; Tokyo’s Governor said the reaction has been too slow and that they were “greedy” for trying to re-use the reactors — “Had they used sea water from the start we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Meanwhile, reports are starting to emerge that the company was warned that a tsunami could cripple the plant’s defenses but ignored the threat, and that Japan’s “Trade Ministry dismissed evidence two years ago from geologists that the power station’s stretch of coast was overdue for a giant wave.”
And Prime Minster Naoto Kan’s “anger at the early response to the threat of nuclear meltdown will likely prompt a purge of Shimizu, 66, and his executive team,” investors and analysts told Bloomberg.