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Tepco chief resigns over nuclear crisis

Tepco chief resigns over nuclear crisis
Japanese police wearing chemical protection suits search for victims near the Fukushima Daiihi nuclear power plant April 15, 2011. UPI/Keizo Mori | License Photo

TOKYO, May 20 (UPI) -- The president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. resigned Friday, saying he was taking "managerial responsibility" for Japan's earthquake-triggered nuclear crisis.

Masataka Shimizu's decision to leave came as the utility announced losses of $15 billion for the fiscal year that ended in March, The Washington Post reported.

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Tepco's managing director, Toshio Nishizawa, will take over the position.

Tepco operates the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where reactors were damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out their cooling systems.

Shimizu, who had hinted in April he would resign as the nuclear emergency subsided, said Friday he wanted to "take managerial responsibility and bring a symbolic close" to the crisis.

Tepco shares have lost about 80 percent of their value, the Post reported.

A government-backed fund, taxpayer money and contributions from other utilities will save Tepco from collapse, but the company still will pay tens of billions of dollars in compensation for 80,000 evacuees who lost their homes and businesses.

Shimizu was named Tepco's president in 2008. In recent weeks, Shimizu traveled to evacuation centers to apologize to people affected by the nuclear disaster.

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