TOKYO - Tokyo Electric Power Co reported its first half-year profit since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, but faces an uncertain future as the government threatens to split the utility, which has struggled with cleaning up the site.
Tokyo Electric, or Tepco, faces huge compensation claims and has set aside just a fraction of the funds needed to decommission the crippled Fukushima Daiichi station, following reactor meltdowns in March 2011 that forced 160,000 people to flee their homes.
Japan's atomic regulator all but told Tepco this week to forget about restarting another of its nuclear plants, which would help it cut costs as part of a restructuring plan - now being revised - and focus on the mounting problems at the Fukushima site.
Tepco said it made a recurring profit - before taxes and one-offs - of 141.7 billion yen (S$1.78 billion) in April-September after cutting costs and selling assets. Net profit was 616.2 billion yen, versus a year-earlier loss of 299.5 billion yen, after receiving 666.2 billion yen from the government to pay out in disaster compensation, and a 74.2 billion yen gain from selling assets.
Revenue rose nearly 12 per cent from last year to 3.22 trillion yen.
Tepco, which has only once reported an annual net profit since 2007, when an earthquake damaged another of its nuclear stations, gave no full-year profit forecasts.
STRIPPED OF RESPONSIBILITY
Tepco has been widely criticised for repeated missteps, poor disclosure and a lack of planning in its efforts to clear up the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
The company should be stripped of the responsibility for shutting down Fukushima, according to a draft proposal this week from a panel of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.