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Scandal-hit KEPCO won't reactivate nuke plants until restoring public trust: exec

The Kansai Electric Power Co. headquarters building is seen in Osaka's Kita Ward in this file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Sept. 27, 2019. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Onishi)

KYOTO -- One of the top executives at scandal-hit Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) said the utility cannot go ahead with its nuclear power-related projects, including the reactivation of its idled nuclear plants, for a considerable period until the firm regains public confidence.

KEPCO is under fire from the public after it was revealed that executives accepted massive amounts of cash and gifts from a former deputy mayor of the Fukui Prefecture town of Takahama that hosts one of KEPCO's nuclear plants.

"We must place priority on regaining the public's confidence. Unless we do so, we can't press forward with (nuclear power) projects," Koji Inada, executive vice president of KEPCO, told reporters at the Kyoto Prefectural Government headquarters on Oct. 8. He was in Kyoto to explain the scandal to prefectural government officials.

"KEPCO has destroyed mutual trust that the prefectural government has nurtured with local residents," Inada said. "We'll be far from having regained trust by the time we receive a report from a third-party panel (set up to probe the payoff scandal). We can regain trust only after we've implemented measures to be recommended by the panel."

KEPCO had earlier planned to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, and select a candidate site for building an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel -- both as early as next year.

(Japanese original by Masateru Sawaki, Kyoto Bureau)

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