TOKYO (AP) - The utility behind Japan's nuclear disaster is acknowledging for the first time that it could have avoided the crisis.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. says in a statement issued Friday that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year's tsunami triggered three meltdowns, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them.

The admissions mark a major reversal for the utility, which had defended its preparedness and crisis management since the March 2011 tsunami.

TEPCO says it had feared efforts to better protect nuclear facilities from severe accidents such as tsunamis would trigger anti-nuclear sentiment, interfere with operations or increase litigation risks.

The acknowledgement came as TEPCO held its first internal reform committee meeting led by a former U.S. nuclear regulatory chief.


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