東電処理と電力改革(上)―国民負担は避けられない

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 16
EDITORIAL: Put TEPCO under new management as part of restructuring effort
東電処理と電力改革(上)―国民負担は避けられない

■国の責任でリストラ徹底

Japan is beset by an unprecedented nuclear disaster. In this editorial, one of two devoted to the issue, we outline steps the government is being forced to consider to reform the nation's troubled power industry.
Central to this issue is the future of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the embattled operator of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which faces financial ruin.
 かつてない原発事故を起こした東京電力をどのように処理していくか。それは、電力システム改革への試金石ともなる。
 2回にわけて、私たちの考え方を示したい。

  ◇  ◇  ◇

Few people would dispute that TEPCO has an obligation to shoulder the bulk of the colossal costs associated with the catastrophe at the Fukushima plant.
 福島第一原発の事故にともなう巨額の費用は、東電に徹底的に負担させる。ほとんどの人は異論あるまい。

Clearly, it is impossible for the utility to bear all the costs. There is no doubt that taxpayers will end up footing a substantial portion of the bill through higher electricity rates or taxes.
 しかし、とても追いつかないだろう。最後は、電気料金や税金の形で国民が負担せざるをえない。

This is the reality confronting TEPCO in determining the company's future.
 これが東電処理の現実だ。

But first, let us take a look at the plan the government is drawing up to ride out the crisis.
 政府がいま進めている計画を確認しておこう。

It has decided to inject public funds totaling 1 trillion yen ($12.75 billion) into the company, which has little chance of surviving on its own.
 経営難に陥っている東電に対し、1兆円の国費を資本注入することは既定路線だ。

The huge injection of taxpayer money is aimed at preventing disruptions in electricity supply and turmoil in financial markets.
 電力の供給が滞ったり、金融市場が混乱したりするのを避けるための措置である。

But the Finance Ministry is voicing doubts about the wisdom of the government acquiring a more than two-thirds stake in the company, which would make it directly responsible for the utility’s management. That, the ministry fears, could entail an additional fiscal burden for the government in the future.
 ところが、東電の3分の2超の株式を取得して、経営に直接、責任を負うことには、財務省から慎重論が出ている。将来的な財政負担につながりかねないという理由からだ。

Instead, it wants the government to provide funds to tide over TEPCO for the time being. Under this scenario, TEPCO would remain as a private-sector company and eventually pay back the money it receives from the government.
 国が必要な資金を出すにしても、あくまで「当面」のこと。民間企業としての東電を残し、いずれは返してもらう――。そんな思惑である。

At first glance, this idea is attractive, at least from the viewpoint of minimizing the financial burden on the public. This is because the nuclear damage liability facilitation fund law, enacted to enable the government to help TEPCO pay compensation to victims of the nuclear disaster, is also rooted in this concept.
 国民負担の回避という点で、この理屈は一見、もっともらしい。東電の賠償資金を国が支援するために施行された原子力損害賠償支援機構法も、そうした考え方に立っている。

But does it really make sense, from a long-term perspective, to allow TEPCO to continue to exist in its current form?
 だが、長い目で見て、いまの東電を存続させることは合理的なシナリオだろうか。

For TEPCO to pay back the money, the government would have to maximize the profits the company earns. To protect TEPCO’s monopoly on the regional power market, the government would have to make it almost impossible for other players to enter the market.
 東電から確実に返済させるには、できるだけ稼いでもらわなければならない。それには、東電の地域独占を守り、電力市場への新規参入はできるだけ少なくしたほうが得策だ。

In short, there would be a powerful disincentive for the government to embark on reforming the nation’s electricity supply system.
 つまり、電力改革にはまともに手をつけないということになる。

There would be no momentum for drastic restructuring and selling off power plants.
発電所売却などの思い切ったリストラも進まない。

The TEPCO management would have a strong incentive to minimize the compensation it pays to victims. This could result in further delays in the company’s negotiations with victims over compensation.
 経営陣には、賠償額をできるだけ抑えようという誘因がはたらく。被害者との交渉は、いま以上に遅れかねない。

Still, it would be a tall order for TEPCO to raise the necessary funds to stay in business.
 それでも、東電が必要な資金を捻出するのは至難のわざだ。

The job of cleaning up the nuclear mess could be a financial black hole. As for the costs of decommissioning the crippled reactors, it is not even clear how the melted nuclear fuel could be recovered.
 廃炉費用ひとつとっても、溶け出した核燃料の回収は手法のめどすら立っていない。

It is generally estimated that tens of billions of yen are needed to decommission a reactor that has reached the end of its useful life. But TEPCO must deal with four reactors that have been disabled by the accident. It will take three to four decades to dismantle these facilities. The total bill will most definitely balloon to more than 1 trillion yen.
 ふつうに寿命を迎えた原発でも、廃炉には数百億円かかるとされる。ましてや事故炉が4基だ。最終撤去まで30~40年かかる。総額が兆円単位に膨らむことは間違いない。

The cost will further grow if the two remaining reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant and the four reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant are factored in.
 福島第一原発の残り2基と福島第二原発の4基も含めれば、費用はさらに増える。

The company is already under financial strain due to growing fuel costs resulting from expanded use of thermal power generation.
 足元では、火力発電の増強による燃料代の高騰が経営をゆさぶる。

It is impossible to estimate how much money will be needed to decontaminate areas hit by radioactive fallout.
除染の費用は、いくらになるか見当もつかない。

TEPCO has no choice but to cut back on new investment. In doing so, it runs the risk of seriously undermining its ability to provide proper maintenance of its power supply facilities. That, in turn, could jeopardize the electricity supply situation to the Tokyo metropolitan area.
 追い込まれる東電は新規投資を手控えるだろう。電力設備の保守すら危うくなれば、首都圏の電力供給に支障が出る。

If the government wanted to avoid providing public funds to bail out TEPCO by making sure the firm will generate sufficient profits, it would have no choice but to force businesses and households in Tokyo and surrounding areas to accept exorbitant hikes in electricity bills.
 結局、財政負担を回避するため、東電に利益を確保させようとすると、首都圏の企業や家庭に、法外な料金値上げを求めざるをえない。

Another option would be for the government to take control of TEPCO's management, fully expecting to be forced to use taxpayer money.
 もう一方の道は、国民負担を覚悟のうえで、国が経営権を握るルートだ。

The responsibility for the catastrophe rests primarily with TEPCO. That said, the government had been promoting nuclear power generation as a national policy.
 今回の事故の責任は一義的には東電にあるが、原子力発電は「国策」でもあった。

It had prompted the expansion of nuclear power generation, permitted the construction of the nuclear power plant and overlooked the company’s failure to take sufficient safety measures. Nobody would argue that the government shares in the responsibility for the accident.
政府が推進し、建設を許可し、安全対策への怠慢を放置してきた。国にまったく責任がないと考える人はいないはずだ。

In the scandal over cases of AIDS contracted from contaminated blood products and hepatitis B contracted from childhood vaccination, the government has decided to provide financial relief and pay compensation to victims. In doing so, it is taking responsibility for the policy mistakes that led to the public health disasters.
 薬害エイズやB型肝炎では、政策責任をとって国が被害者の救済や賠償を担った。

If the government decides to assume ultimate responsibility to deal with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster triggered by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, it would be able to use the process to open up new possibilities for the nation’s power market.
今回の後始末も、最後は国として引き受ける。そこさえ腹を決めれば、東電処理を電力市場の新しい可能性へとつなげられる。

Herein lies the biggest significance of nationalizing the utility.
 国有化の最大の意味は、そこにある。

Obviously, the financial burden to the public should be kept to a minimum.
 もちろん、国民負担は最小限にとどめるべきだ。

That would require the government to exhaustively restructure TEPCO to scrape up as much cash as possible to pay off the debt.
そのためには、まず東電のリストラを徹底し、負債にあてる原資を最大限ひねり出す必要がある。

TEPCO is effectively in a state of negative net worth as its liabilities exceed its assets.
 東電は実質的に債務超過の状態だ。

Free market principles would dictate that the company should go face legal bankruptcy procedures.
本来なら、市場のルールに従って破綻(はたん)処理されるはずの企業である。

The company’s stock should be declared valueless. Even though it has used up a big chunk of its capital surplus to deal with the situation, TEPCO still has some 900 billion yen in equity capital.
 株式の価値はゼロにする。東電は剰余金を相当取り崩したものの、9千億円ほどの資本金がある。

As long as taxpayer money is used to deal with the utility mess, shareholders should accept the loss of their investment in the company.
国民の税金が投じられる以上、株主が損失を負担するのは当然だ。

The government should also require the company’s creditor banks to forgive at least part of the debts owed by TEPCO to them.
 金融機関にも一定の債権放棄を求める。

Financial institutions are supposed to impose market discipline on corporate financing by lending money to companies at interest rates that reflect the risks of their businesses assessed through rigorous examinations.
 融資先の事業リスクを審査してリスクに見合った金利をつけることで市場の規律を働かせるのが金融の役割だ。

But the banks had been providing funds to TEPCO at favorable terms. That’s because there was a tacit understanding that the government would protect regional power monopolies at any cost.
 にもかかわらず、銀行は東電に有利な条件で資金を提供してきた。地域独占の電力会社は何があっても政府が守るという暗黙の理解があったからだ。

That attitude reflects their underestimation of the safety risks of nuclear power generation. The financial institutions should pay the price for that.
 それは、原発リスクを過小評価してきたことの裏返しでもある。金融機関は結果責任をとらなければならない。

It is not easy to decide how to deal with TEPCO bonds, which are secured by specific company assets.
 社債(東電債)は担保付きであり、扱いはむずかしい。

But the value of the company’s electricity business has been deeply compromised. There should be a reasonable way to reduce the value of the bonds in line with the decline in the value of the underlying assets.
ただ東電の電気事業の価値そのものは大きく毀損(きそん)している。担保の目減りを社債の償還額に反映させる考え方もあるはずだ。

The government should figure out what to do through dialogue with the market.
市場との対話を重ねながら、方法を探るべきだ。

The funds thus raised should be used primarily to pay compensation to victims. This problem should be settled as quickly as possible to move the process of handling the TEPCO mess to the next step.
 得られた資金は被害者への賠償に優先的にあてる。次のステップに進むため、できるだけ早く解決しなければならない。

Clearly, the management team should be replaced. Not only the top management posts, but also key leadership positions at major sections should be filled with people committed to reform, to be recruited from both inside and outside the company. This way, employees would be encouraged to point out problems with the company and contribute ideas for fixing them.
 もちろん、経営陣は交代させる。トップだけでなく主要な部署のリーダーには社内外から改革の意思のある人物をつけ、社員の問題意識や新しいアイデアを引き出す。

The company’s assets, including power plants, should be sold or spun off boldly. Shady business transactions with affiliated firms should be terminated. The salaries of employees need to be reviewed fundamentally.
 発電所などの資産を大胆に売却したり、切り離したりする。関連会社との不透明な取引は排除する。社員の処遇は根本的に見直す。

In addition, TEPCO’s pension program should be treated as that of a failed company. Getting the consent of former employees for cuts in their pension benefits should be done as soon as possible.
企業年金も破綻企業と同じ扱いとし、OBから早期に減額への合意をとりつける。

The shortfall of funds left after all these efforts would have to be covered through rate increases. But the hikes would be much smaller if these radical restructuring steps are taken.
 それでも足りない分は、やはり料金値上げに頼らざるをえない。ただし、リストラを徹底するぶん、上げ幅は小さくできるはずだ。

If neither of the two options results in a financial burden on the public through electricity rate increases, then it would clearly be better if the government takes control of the company’s management.
 どちらを選んでも、料金値上げという国民負担が避けられないのなら、国が経営権を握るほうがいいのは明らかだ。

It is almost impossible at this moment to estimate the total amount of damages caused by the nuclear accident.
 原発事故による損失の総額を現時点で見通すことはむずかしい。

Power market liberalization would prompt more businesses and households in the region to switch from TEPCO to other power suppliers.
電力改革が進むと、他の事業者に乗り換える企業や家庭も増えるだろう。

Since TEPCO itself is dismantled in the process, there will be a limit to how much money the company can receive from electricity charges.
東電自体、解体が進むため電気料金による回収にも限界がある。

In the end, the government, which is responsible for the expansion of nuclear power generation in this country, will have to consider using taxpayer money to cover the shortfall while reorganizing its nuclear power budget.
 最後は、原発を推進してきた国の責任として、原子力予算を組み替えつつ、税金での穴埋めを検討する必要がある。

Given the fiscal crunch, it is also necessary to take new measures to increase tax revenue, such as taxing the use of TEPCO’s power transmission network. That would spread the burden to all the consumers of electricity within the region served by the utility.
 国の財源に余裕がないことを考えれば、例えば東電の送電網を利用することに課税してはどうか。そうすれば東電管内の電気を使うすべての人が負担することになる。

If all these steps fail to raise the necessary amount of money, the government will have to expand the national tax base. In that case, it will be necessary to adopt special measures to win public support for the tax increase, such as imposing higher tax rates within the region served by TEPCO.
 なお不十分な場合は、全国的に課税ベースを広げる。東電管内だけ税率を高くするなどして、納得を得る努力も必要になるだろう。

It is vital to minimize the negative effects on people’s daily lives and the nation’s economy as a whole.
できるだけ日常生活や経済への影響を少なくするよう工夫したい。

None of the ideas discussed here would be easy to implement.
 どれも簡単ではない。

But the entire nation needs to rise to the challenges created by the nuclear disaster.
だが、原発事故が提起した問題には、国民全員で向き合うしかない。

By doing so, we would be able to consider the situation of people in Fukushima as our own problem and start thinking seriously about the future of our nation’s energy policy.
それが、福島の人たちを自分のことと考え、一人ひとりが今後のエネルギー政策を真剣に考えることにつながる。
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2012-02-19 08:29 | 英字新聞

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