A plan to temporarily nationalize Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of a stricken nuclear plant, has been floated by some members of the Japanese government, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Tuesday.
The plan includes the government taking a majority stake in Asia’s largest utility as well as helping it pay for damages stemming from the nuclear accident, the newspaper said, citing unidentified government sources.
Shares in Tokyo Electric have tumbled 70 percent since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, causing it to leak radiation.
The crisis appeared to escalate in the past few days with plutonium found in soil on Tuesday, rattling already shaky financial markets.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said it was not true the government was considering nationalizing the utility.
Tokyo Electric spokesman Hajime Motojuku said he was unaware of any plan for nationalization: “Our first and biggest priority at this moment is to prevent the nuclear power plant accident from worsening further,” he said.
Tokyo Electric shares were untraded due to a glut of sell orders at 566 yen, down 19 percent from Monday’s close. The company has lost about $30 billion in market value since the March 11 disaster.