Beleaguered Tokyo Electric Power Co, owner of the Fukushima power plant, will be taken over by the Japanese government after a $12.5bn bailout was approved today.

Without state intervention, Tepco – Japan’s biggest utility which supplies power to 45 million people – would certainly collapse.

The bailout money means that since the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster last year the government has pumped more than $36bn into Tepco.

“Without the state funds, Tepco cannot provide a stable supply of electricity and pay for compensation and decommissioning costs,” Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said after approving the bailout.

The government will have more than half of Tepco’s voting shares, according to the plan approved by Edano. It will also take convertible stock that, when converted, will increase the government’s control to more than two-thirds.

Tepco chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata will be replaced by a government-chosen official. Already this week the company has appointed a new president – Naomi Hirose’s – the second since Fukushima.

Japan currently has no operational nuclear plants, following a wave of safety checks in the wake of last year’s reactor disaster.

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