Japan approves another $8.9bn in aid for TEPCO

Japan on Monday approved a fresh $8.9 billion in aid for the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant as the company said it expected to lose a similar amount this year.

The decision means TEPCO stays solvent, but continues to run up costs as it struggles to clean up the mess left behind by reactor meltdowns and meet claims for compensation following the March 11 quake disaster and resulting nuclear crisis.

The 690 billion yen aid package was announced after Tokyo Electric Power revised up its estimate of what it would need to compensate victims of the worst nuclear accident in a generation, to 1.7 trillion yen from 1.01 trillion yen.

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Japan Has ‘Slim’ Chance of Splitting Utilities as Blackouts Loom

Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s proposal to split electricity monopolies into generation and distribution companies as part of his plan to wean Japan from nuclear energy may be opposed by utilities as the nation faces power shortages.Kan’s government last week announced its plan to diversify away from nuclear power after a public backlash following the Fukushima disaster, and shift to alternate sources gradually to avoid shortages and higher prices. The strategy will consider separating generation and distribution and encourage “various operators” to enter the electricity market, Kan said July 29.“Breaking up the electricity grid is a great idea in theory, but the power companies are against it and the chances of it actually happening are slim,” said Kenichi Hirano, general manager and strategist at Tachibana Securities Co. in Tokyo. “The debate will end at the discussion stage instead of translating into policy unless the government is willing to take on the utilities. The reaction in the market will be limited.”

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Lights go out as Tokyo lives on through power shortage

The giant TVs are silent, the neon lights dark and the bars of Tokyo half-empty. Two weeks after Japan’s deadly earthquake, the city that once never slept is learning to live with a new era of frugality.

Many public escalators are idle, the trains less frequent and the usually overflowing shelves of the round-the-clock convenience stores sparsely stocked.

In the daytime, under the crisp winter skies, the city almost seems to have recovered from the shock of the massive March 11 earthquake which sent a huge tsunami crashing into northeast Japan and triggered a nuclear crisis.

But nightfall reveals the reality — a fortnight after the twin disaster struck, the capital is still a shadow of its former self.

Nowhere is the contrast more evident than in the usually vibrant teen fashion district of Shibuya

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