31 December 2013, 16:00

Yakuza uses grey hiring practices in Fukushima cleaning, gov’t remains silent - expert

Yakuza  uses grey hiring practices in Fukushima cleaning, gov’t remains silent - expert

Homeless people in Japan are reportedly recruited for a clean-up at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The potential laborers are dispatched by recruiters to Japan’s disaster zone for a bounty of 100 dollars. They’re willing to accept a minimum wage for one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world – to clean up radioactive fallout across the area of northern Japan.

Alex Kerr, japanologist known for his research book "Lost Japan", shared his views with the Voice of Russia on this matter.

Some media reports claim that homeless people are recruited for clean-up at Fukushima. What’s your take on these claims?

I am sure they are because homeless people work on construction sites all over Japan. This has gone on for many decades, it is not unique to Fukushima.

Are laborers recruited by gangsters, who treat them as ‘disposable people’? Does this sound plausible to you?

Yes, the Yakuza have long been involved at the lower runs of Japanese construction industry where there is a lot of grey money and grey hiring practices. It does 2 things. It makes the pay cheaper for the large contractors, but it also shields the clients, in this case the government from actually having any responsibility for those workers.

The story went that actually the Yakuza were using these guys because they are in large debts. And this was the way the Yakuza was giving back to Japan, so to say, and also clearing the people’s debts of course. Is there any truth to the story?

It sounds like a bit of a fairy tale to me. The Yakuza are making money by scheming off the wages of each of the workers that they hire.

What do the officials say about all of this?

They are keeping mum about it because the whole system depends on it. In particular in the case of Fukushima there is no health testing for these workers. The health liabilities, if this was admitted and talked about in the government actually accepted some responsibility, would be huge.

Are these people aware of the health risks they’re taking?

Some are unaware, some are aware but do it anyway. But nobody is looking after them. They are not tested or treated because the whole thing is happening in a grey area where everybody including the large construction firm can pretend this isn’t happening or they didn’t know about it.

Looking forward, what do you see with Fukushima? Is Fukushima going to be cleaned up?

I think the government has already said it will take 3 more years but the true cleanup of Fukushima is nearly impossible. What can you do – scrape the dirt off of a few roads? You can’t clean up entire mountain ranges. It doesn’t make sense. It is a deeply troubled policy right from the beginning.

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