national

Fukushima 'decontamination troops' often exploited, shunned

29 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
Login to comment

Another thing that people here wont make a big deal about, they want the work done, and they dont care about those who do it just as long as they stay quiet and not cause problems.

Like I've said, omoteinashi in Japan only works as long as it doesnt become permanent. These communities welcomed the workers at first, saw them as saviors, but not the reality has set in that they are here to stay to do a job no one wants, and want them gone.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Most workers keep their mouths shut for fear of losing their jobs. One laborer in a gray jacket and baggy pants, carrying cans of beer on his way home, said he was instructed never to talk to reporters.

Officials keep close tabs on journalists. Minutes after chatting with some workers in Minamisoma, Associated Press journalists received a call from a [Tamura] city official warning them not to talk to decontamination crews.

That raises a lot of red flags in terms of rampant censorship and lack of press freedoms in Japan.

Why didn't the Associated Press report on the name of the Tamura city official who told them not to talk to decontamination crews? If the official "warned" the press not to talk to decontamination crews, what did he imply would be the repercussions if they failed to heed his warning?

The official obviously needs to be named, and needs to be asked about his motives. One possibility is that he feared for the journalists' safety. Another possibility is that he has a vested/economic interest in hushing up uncomfortable truths. We may never know.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

There's one word that describes TEPCO, the local and national governments, the bureaucracy and the labor system anc culture.

The word is "evil."

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Coming from across Japan to do a dirty, risky and undesirable job, the workers make up the very bottom of the nation’s murky, caste-like subcontractor system long criticized for labor violations. Vulnerable to exploitation and shunned by local residents, they typically work on three-to-six-month contracts with little or no benefits, living in makeshift company barracks

IOW: hobos. Sad.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If the definition of evil is money before people then yes you are right. This is a great report. These people doing this terrible work are true heroes. TEPCO administration knew all about the dangers of Fukushima for years and did nothing. My ex father in law told me all about in 2005. He was a TEPCO executive for many years worked at the company for 45 years. He told me that a meltdown was a big possibility and that he always sold his TEPCO annual bonus shares as soon as he got them because he knew an accident could happen any day. People like him should be the ones out there cleaning this mess up

11 ( +12 / -1 )

A direct product of "labor market reforms," ....aimed at giving a boost to the Japanese economy. LOL.

Japan used to treat its workers quite well. Then the free marketers said that was bad, and called for more "flexible" employment regulations so that corporations could earn the record-high profits they are currently raking in.

The problem is the expected "trickle down" isn't happening, and most people are getting poorer, while the super rich are becoming the super-duper rich.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

How depressing. Please come and do all the work! We don't care how you live, if it's fair, or whether you can make ends meet. But do anything like speak loudly, throw trash away wrong, or God forbid be rumored to have a tattoo then please GET OUT!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I expected no less from a country with a history of looking down on people doing the dirty work (burakumin)

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Disaster Capitalism.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

sad that those that have hard life are forgotten even in the end, well I will remember, even if I don't know your names. R.I.P

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The men were among the 26,000 workers...tasked with removing the contaminated topsoil and stuffing it into tens of thousands of black bags lining the fields and roads. They wipe off roofs, clean out gutters and chop down trees in a seemingly endless routine.

The 26,000 Sisyphuses of Japan, endlessly moving dirt from one place to the next, all for naught. This is one of the most massive futile efforts ever.

The millions of man hours and billions of taxpayer yen spent on this massive undertaking don't save a single life. I suppose the payoff is that it gives the 'ganbaru' illusion of great initiative resulting in progress being made. Other than that, the only beneficiaries are politicians on the take, shady subcontractors and their organized crime connections.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Or they could allow millions of foreigners to work here doing the dirty jobs illegally, and then moan about them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Yes moving the dirt from one place to another, this is exactly what they are doing, radioactive nuclear isotopes will not vanish "magically" just because you put water on it. This is the "smoke and mirror" promises of the nuclear village, which is racking millions on that fake decontamination business by the way.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why aren't Abe, the Tepco bosses and all those nuclear fanboys on JT cleaning up the mess they made? 'Radiation isn't lethal' is their mantra after all...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

the worker had been offered pay of 17,000 yen ($150) per day, but after middlemen took a cut he was getting only 8,000 yen ($70).

In a more competitive free market system, capitalists would take advantage of this inefficient situation, by hiring up the workers directly, pay them 16,500 yen per day giving them a significant pay boost, take 500 yen in profits for themselves, and the parasite middlemen would be left scrambling to find a proper job.

If all the layers of regulations and bureaucracy were eliminated, the workers could be looking at significantly higher wages still (as they should considering the risky work involved).

The Japanese system stifles productivity. The government ought to enact regulations that provide incentives for such competitors to move in and shake the system up. But the government won't because it is beholden to the vested interests.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Wow! One ray of hope, one ray of humanity.

"One resident grateful for the workers is Hideaki Kinoshita, a Buddhist monk who keeps the unidentified laborers’ ashes at his temple, in wooden boxes and wrapped in white cloth.

“We owe a lot to those who clean this town, doing the work that locals don’t even want to,” he said."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"In a more competitive free market system, capitalists would take advantage of this inefficient situation, by hiring up the workers directly,"

But they can't hire anymore. These "capitalists" cut back drastically on their own human resource/personnel departments a while ago in an effort to cut costs and thus make shareholders happy. Now instead they contract HR specialists (the middlemen) to do the hiring on their behalf,

This system of outsourcing and contracting is indeed a hallmark of today's lightly regulated free-market style of capitalism. And it's killing workers in developed countries.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This article highlights the rotten nature of Japanese work culture and society on so many levels..

the subcontractors who hire the workers under false pretenses, the gov's lack of caring about the saftey and condition of the workers the residents' lack of gratitude the wages the workers are paid and the way they are treated

I could go on and on, but there's too much to pick out. Instead, let's do the following: let's all go back, read this article again, and pretend that there is no headline nor any names of people or places.

We would be forgiven to think that this was an article about labor conditions in Myammar, China, or Bangladesh.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

If only the damned govt would hold the top construction companies RESPONSIBLE, fine them LARGE amounts, arrest dirty management, then these shady situations would disappear pretty quick!

This is so disgusting on so many levels, another nasty metaphor for Japan as a whole, its treats its own people extremely poorly, they just do not give a damn & it SHOWS!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan has a heavily and crappily regulated style of capitalism, not a lightly regulated free-market one.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Oh...for the love of Pete...knock it off! This is crap...now, check out the truth... http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushimas-image-being-warped-by-search-engines-a-recipe-to-battle-against-the-deficiency-of-information/

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If only the damned govt would hold the top construction companies RESPONSIBLE, fine them LARGE amounts, arrest dirty management, then these shady situations would disappear pretty quick!

That these companies exist in the inefficient and wasteful structure they do in the first place is the root cause that ought be addressed, or we'll be facing the same stories again in future. Regulatory reforms to boost competition in the sector are required (as with various other sectors).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let the resident do the cleaning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When the entire operation is run by the Yaks, what do you expect? They give them nothing more than kitchen gloves for handling radioactive materials. Then the Yaks dump said radioactive materials in the rivers. A+ on the organisation, TEPCO! Japan Inc. would be proud.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Japan has a heavily and crappily regulated style of capitalism"

If it were "heavily" regulated, then the constant labor violations (of, um, regulations) wouldn't be taking place. This is what happens when corporations are allowed to do whatever they want.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is a troubled nation... very troubled indeed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” - unknown soldiers

The inference here is that these people are military, they are not, if they were they would not be unknown here in Japan.

These workers are slave labor, and the country should be ashamed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If it were "heavily" regulated, then the constant labor violations (of, um, regulations) wouldn't be taking place.

You did nicely point out the logical flaw in your own argument there.

I'd be surprised if there were many businesses in Japan of any type that were 100% compliant with all applicable regulations, because there is such a sheer number of them, and most of them don't serve much purpose.

I am probably violating some Japanese bureaucratic rule every time I slip a shoe on. And my shoes are probably not as per Japanese regulations.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Don't worry, the Abe administration is planning to create a meeting for planning to create a plan on how to right the wrongs of Fukushima in about 4 years from now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites