21 November 2013, 03:19

Homeless men involved in cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear power plant were not aware of the health risks they were taking.

Alexey Yaroshevsky reporting from the site of the Fukushima NPP met with a former Fukushima worker employed in the clean-up operation. The former worker said that they were given no insurance for health risks and even no radiation meters. At first they were promised a lot of money and offered long-term contracts but they were kicked out after they received a large radiation doze.

While some workers voluntarily agreed to be hired on the nuclear clean-up project many of them were brought into the nuclear power plant by Japanese organized crime syndicates, the yakuza. In Japan frequently, when a certain construction project requires an immediate workforce in large numbers, employers contact the Yakuza. This was the case with Fukushima as well. Investigators say that they need first-hand reports from those forced to work by the yakuza to descend upon the syndicates.

Earlier this year the Japanese police detained one yakuza over claims that he sent workers to the Fukushima plant without a license and regularly pocketed part of their wages.

According to government data, there are 25% more openings for jobs at Fukushima plant than applicants. These gaps are often filled with homeless people or those unemployed for months. As the Japanese government has been reluctant to encourage foreign workers to come into the country, its nuclear industry mostly uses cheap domestic labour.

Working conditions in the nuclear industry have always been bad, problems with money or lack of proper health insurance have existed for decades. Now it is coming to light that many of the clean-up workers, including those who were sent to work at the power plant by the yakuza, mostly with gambling debts or family obligations, often did not understand what they were dealing with. As a result they could have exposed themselves to large radiation doses without knowing it.

However, the Tokyo Electric Power Company denies all charges of mistreatment or organized crime involvement.

There are no exact figures how many people have taken part in the Fukushima clean-up operation. According to rough estimates, this may be 250,000 people. As experts say that it may take another 40 years to fully eliminate the consequences of the disaster, the lives of millions of people could be affected.

Voice of Russia, RT
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