Masataka Shimizu, the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. stepped down Friday over the nuclear crises at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant. Shimizu's resignation was widely expected, and it came on the same day the utility, commonly known as TEPCO, reported the biggest losses in the history of the company.
"[The Fukushima crises] has caused a caused a considerable amount of anxiety and burdened the public tremendously," Shimizu told reporters. "Considering those factors, I must take responsibility. It's important to draw a line, right now."
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11th crippled the Fukushima reactors, and sparked the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Three reactors went into meltdown, after the cooling systems failed. More than two months after the crises began the reactors continue to spew radiation, as workers have faced one setback after another, in their efforts to stabilize the reactors. 80,000 residents living near the nuclear plant remain displaced, and will not be allowed to return home for at least a year.
TEPCO reported its losses for the fiscal year that ended in March totaled $15 billion, the largest in the company's 60-year history. The amount reflects the cost to scrap damaged nuclear reactors, but overall losses from the Fukushima disaster are expect to be much larger. The company still needs to compensate thousands of evacuees and businesses forced out of their communities because of unsafe radiation levels.
Last week, the government agreed to set up a fund financed by taxpayers and other utilities, to help TEPCO pay for the ballooning costs. The company still has not given an estimate on the likely cost of compensating victims.
Current managing director Toshio Nishizawa will take over as TEPCO president. The board is expected to make it official next month.