– Fukushima worker exploitation (Reuters, Oct 24, 2013):
Reuters uncovers widespread exploitation as Japan looks to recover from the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
UNNAMED 55-YEAR-OLD WORKER AT FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI PLANT SAYING: “I was told to clean up tsunami rubble.” “But then I got told to go to ‘1F'” “I didn’t know what ‘1F’ was but when I looked it up I realized it meant the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant” On March 11 a tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Fears of radiation forced 150,000 people to flee. Now 6,000 workers remain to keep the plant under control. But many suffer from exploitation, low pay and high radiation.
UNNAMED 55-YEAR-OLD WORKER AT FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI PLANT SAYING: “At first, I didn’t have a place to live. I didn’t have anything.” “It was like a bad comic book.” “They kept me in prefab warehouse. Somewhere like where you keep tools.” “I was there for around 3 weeks with one sleeping bag.” “I was told I could just work in normal clothes. But I arrived and was put into a full protective suit. I was very confused.” “So you have 2 or 4 contractors, and they skim your wages. So you’re only getting less than $100 a day.” “Then you pay rent, so you only have $60 dollars a day.” “But there’s nowhere else to go, there’s nowhere else to eat.” “Everyone is stuck like that.”
JAPANESE MINISTRY OF ECONOMY, TRADE AND INDUSTRY TOSHIMITSU MOTEGI, SAYING: “To get work done, it’s necessary to cooperate with a large number of companies. Making sure that those relations are proper and that work is moving forward is something that we need to keep working on daily.” “Everyone there is really working hard.”
LABOR LAWYER YOUSUKE MINAGUCHI, SAYING: “There’s government money so if they wanted to they could.” “But Tepco and government ministries don’t want to focus on the problem.” “On the surface, they say it’s illegal.” “But in reality, they don’t do anything.” “By not punishing anyone, they can keep using alot of workers cheaply.”
EX-NUCLEAR WORKER TETSUYA HAYASHI SAYING: “The ads say it’s completely safe. That the radiation is low.” “Then once you’ve signed all the papers, you find out that actually you’re going into a highly radioactive area.”
CONTRACTOR WHO HIRED TESTSUYA HAYASHI SAYING: “The radiation level goes down, it’s not like it stays in you.”
EX-NUCLEAR WORKER TETSUYA HAYASHI SAYING: “Workers on the front lines are tricked into going there.” “After a few days, they’re thrown away. Then the companies lie and recruit. “You get told it’s no big deal, that it could be worse and you don’t know better.” “So you start thinking maybe it’s alright.” “You’re brainwashed, bit by bit.”