The Tokyo Electric Power Company president who shouldered the blame for the utility's handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis has resigned. In a press conference in Tokyo, Masataka Shimizu apologized from "the bottom of my heart," for the accident and bowed. Even though he's been described as a "reviled" chief executive, he'll still reportedly stay on as an advisor to the utility.
Prompting Shimizu's resignation was the announcement that TEPCO posted what the Wall Street Journal noted as "the biggest annual loss in Japanese corporate history outside the financial sector." That would be $15.28 billion in losses as it tried to contain radiation-seepage as the crisis escalated to the same level as Chernobyl, provided compensation to evacuees in the area, and established a six to nine month timeline toward stabilizing the plant.
Calls for the TEPCO president to step down have been consistent since the crisis began after the magnitude 8.9 quake and devastating tsunami overran the plant's defenses. The utility has been blamed for "weak oversight" at its nuclear plants, ignoring regulator's warnings about the potential damage of a quake and downplaying the dangers at the Fukushima. In the same press conference that announced Shimizu's resignation, the company stated that its losses raise "substantial questions about our ability to continue" operating as usual.