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Portion of wages paid to some Fukushima plant workers may have gone to gang: police(Mainichi)

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FUKUSHIMA — Some of the wages of workers dispatched to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant by an arrested yakuza gang member may have been used as gang funding, Fukushima Prefectural Police have disclosed.

On May 22, police arrested 33-year-old Makoto Owada, a high-ranking member of a gang affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai yakuza group, on suspicion of violating the Temporary Staffing Services Law in connection with restoration work at the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

A Tochigi Prefecture company that was contracted to do work at the plant formed a subcontract with another company, rather than directly with Owada, and investigators have learned that several businesses were involved in securing people to work at the radiation-tainted plant. Police are investigating how gang members came to be involved in the work.

Investigative sources said that about five people including gang members under Owada did work such as laying cables at the stricken plant. The wages of workers in areas with high radiation levels was normally about 40,000 yen per day, but part of this amount was paid to businesses involved in dispatching workers, and the gang members received about 10,000 yen in the hand per worker, per day. Owada’s cut was said to be around 7,000 yen, and police suspect that some of the money was passed on to the gang organization to which the members belonged.

The Tochigi Prefecture company, which was second in the line of subcontracting work from the perspective of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., formed a contract with a construction firm in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, to secure workers to be sent to the plant. However, the workers who ended up being sent to the plant included gang members under Owada.

Owada was quoted as telling investigators he had dispatched workers to nuclear power plant construction sites in various areas from around 2007.

A police official commenting on the case said a large amount of tax funds were expected to go into recovery work and decommissioning work in the aftermath of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and added, “We need to cut off gangs’ sources of funding.”

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