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Japan’s homeless ‘recruited’ for cleaning up Fukushima nuclear plant (RT)

A reactor vessel at the unit six reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (AFP Photo / Recoquille Bression)

A reactor vessel at the unit six reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (AFP Photo / Recoquille Bression)

Homeless men are being recruited for one of the most unwanted jobs in the industrialized world – clearing of radioactive fallout at the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl – the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, a special report has claimed.

One of the recruiters, Seiji Sasa, told Reuters how and where he  is looking for potential laborers in the northern Japanese city  of Sendai. The headhunter supplies homeless people to contractors  in the nuclear disaster zone for a reward of $100 per head.

Two homeless men eating a meal outside shuttered shops at night in the western Japanese metropolis of Osaka. (AFP Photo / Richard A. Brooks)

Two homeless men eating a meal outside shuttered shops at night in the western Japanese metropolis of Osaka. (AFP Photo / Richard A. Brooks)

“This is how labor recruiters like me come in every  day,” Sasa explained, walking past the destitute sleeping on  cardboard in the winter cold, on the lookout for those who have  nothing left to lose.

Meanwhile, it is said the complete decontamination of the  facility will take three decades and could cost up to 10 trillion  yen ($125 billion) – equal to around 2 percent of Japan’s gross  domestic product or 11 percent of the country’s annual budget.

According to the Fukushima plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power  Co (Tepco), dismantling the Fukushima Daiichi plant will require  at least 12,000 worWhile there are currently some 8,000 registered workers, there  are 25 percent more openings for jobs at the Fukushima plant than  applicants, according to government data. These gaps are often  filled by the homeless and the unemployed, those who are  down-and-out.     It was reported last month that among the homeless men employed  cleaning up the stricken nuclear plant for less than minimum  wage, there were also those brought in by Japan’s notorious  Yakuza gangsters.

RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky caught up with an investigative  journalist who went undercover at Fukushima, filming with a  camera hidden in his watch. He said that when a certain  construction project requires an immediate workforce in large  numbers, Japanese bosses usually make a phone call to the Yakuza.

“This was the case with Fukushima: the government called  Tepco to take urgent action, Tepco relayed it to their  subcontractors and they, eventually, as they had a shortage of  available workers, called the Yakuza for help,” Tomohiko  Suzuki told RT in November.

Japanese police say that up to 50 Yakuza gangs with 1,050 members  currently operate in Fukushima prefecture.

Earlier this year, the first arrests were made. One Yakuza was  detained over claims he sent workers to the crippled Fukushima  plant without a license. Yoshinori Arai took a cut of the  workers’ wages, pocketing $60,000 in over two years.

It also emerged that many of the cleanup workers, who exposed  themselves to large doses of radiation without even knowing it,  were given no insurance for health risks, no radiation meters  even.

The devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which claimed  nearly 19,000 lives and made tens of thousands of people  homeless, set off multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima plant,  spewing radiation over a large area. The radius of evacuation  after the meltdown is larger than the area of Hong Kong. Some  areas will remain contaminated for years to come, nuclear experts  forecast.

All of Japan’s nuclear reactors are currently switched off.  However, a recent opinion poll conducted by NHK of Japan, has  found that nearly half of those taking part in it are against the  Nuclear Regulation Authority’s plan to allow the restart of shut  down nuclear reactors after safety checks. Only 19 percent of  respondents approved of the plan, while 45 percent said they were  against it.

Another question asked if respondents were satisfied with the  handling of the leaks of radioactive wastewater from the Daiichi  nuclear complex. Nearly 70 percent said they disapproved.

Major setbacks have stalled TEPCO’s handling of the nuclear  disaster amid widespread criticism and calls to put  Fukushima-related work under government control.     Earlier this month Japan said it will earmark more taxpayer money  to help Tepco clean up the crippled nuclear plant.

The government’s extra budget new draft, for the fiscal year to  next March, allocates nearly $480 million for measures to deal  with growing amounts of radioactive water at the plant, as well  as the decommissioning of its three melted reactors. Additional  cleanup projects are expected to be funded through a national  public works budget.

kers just through 2015. The company and its  subcontractors are already short of workers, however.



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