Reuters: Japan’s foreign asylum seekers tricked into Fukushima radiation clean-up

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Hi Blog. Here’s a scoop involving several layers of odious. It’s not just a matter of Japan’s poor or homeless (or other foreigners) being exploited for dangerous and life-threatening jobs cleaning up the radioactive mess in Fukushima.  Now Japan’s government is quite possibly complicit in tricking foreign ASYLUM SEEKERS into doing the dirty work for the sake of being granted extensions to their visa (which in the end turned out to be “a false promise”). All this under conditions where, according to the Reuters article below, “more than half of the 1,020 companies involved in decontamination violated labor and safety laws”. Further, as submitter JDG notes, “Asylum seekers in Japan tricked into doing nuclear decontamination work in Fukushima because when they get over-dosed on radiation and contaminated, the J-gov can always reject their asylum applications and deport them after all, right?”

As Debito.org has noted before, there is a metaphorical radioactivity to Fukushima that overwhelms law and order and corrodes all sense, bringing out the corrupt criminal underbelly of Japan’s bureaucratic and political worlds. Fukushima’s running-sore of an issue has undermined all integrity at the eventual expense of lives, particularly those of the most powerless in society. Six years after the event, the whitewashing of the issue continues. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Bangladeshi asylum seekers tricked into radiation clean-up: media
Reuters India, March 8, 2017, courtesy of JDG
By Minami Funakoshi and Thomas Wilson | TOKYO
http://in.reuters.com/article/us-japan-fukushima-asylumseeker-idINKBN16F0YN

FILE PHOTO – Big black plastic bags containing radiated soil, leaves and debris from the decontamination operation are dumped at a seaside, devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture, near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

Two Bangladeshi asylum seekers in Japan cleared up radioactive contamination from one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters on the false promise doing so would win them permission to stay in the country longer, media reported on Wednesday.

The Fukushima nuclear plant suffered multiple meltdowns after being hit by a tsunami triggered by a big earthquake on March 11, 2011. Companies decontaminating areas around the plant, which usually involves removing radioactive top soil, have struggled to find workers willing to do the job.

The two men, who arrived in Japan in 2013 saying they were escaping political persecution, said they were told by brokers and construction companies that their visas would be extended if they did decontamination work, the Chunichi newspaper reported.

“We believed the visa story because they said it’s a job Japanese people don’t want to do,” Chunichi quoted one of the men, Monir Hossain, as saying.

Reuters was not able to reach the two men.

The men did the decontamination work in Iitate village, about 50 km (30 miles) south of the plant, from January to March 2015, Chunichi said.

Japan maintains tight controls on the entry of foreign workers but asylum seekers are allowed to work while their applications are reviewed. Many have permits allowing them to stay and work that have to be renewed every six months.

Mitsushi Uragami, a justice ministry official who oversees refugee recognition, said there were no residence permits on offer for people doing decontamination.

“The length of asylum seekers’ residence permits and them doing decontamination work are unrelated. If anyone is giving inaccurate explanations about this, it’s problematic,” Uragami told Reuters.

The department was investigating the case, he said.

Takuya Nomoto, an environment ministry official overseeing decontamination, said the Chunichi report did not give the names of the companies or labor brokers involved, and as such the ministry was not able to confirm it.

The Fukushima Labour Bureau said this month more than half of the 1,020 companies involved in decontamination violated labor and safety laws last year.

Reuters revealed in 2013 that homeless men were put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima for less than the minimum wage.

Reuters also found the clean-up depended on a little scrutinized network of subcontractors – many of them inexperienced with nuclear work and some with ties to organized crime.

(Reporting by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Robert Birsel)
ENDS

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9 comments on “Reuters: Japan’s foreign asylum seekers tricked into Fukushima radiation clean-up

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Thank you for cover this Dr. Debito, it’s an outrageous abuse of human rights and deserves widespread international condemnation.
    It’s absolutely staggering.

    Reply
  • These jobs used to be adverstiised and easy to find. I called about one, a forklift driver position and I asked if there as radiation hazard. He say, yes, there is.

    Reply
    • what I find very intriguing about the post fukushima clean up is that there was allot of talk of foriegn firms getting contracts to help with the rebuilding efforts and so much money to be made, but as most of us already knew, that was not to be. I didnt know whether to laugh at those peole or feel sorry for them. Seems the only foriegners getting work are those involved in handling the radioactivity. The fukushima disaster may be a distant memory for many, but I remember how the fiasco as handled very much so, like it was yesterday, including being told to believe whatever the J gov and media were telling us about the radioactivity levels.

      Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    Thanks for posting- each time Japan’s rosy PR tricks a starry eyed young NJ, I am going to wheel out this article so they get as more balanced picture.

    An important tool against Japan’s propaganda war.

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Times, Japan is trying to do it on the cheap these days, including clean up radioactivity. I bet they couldn’t afford the foreign companies’ bids, but to “save face” they cited “unique culture” as the reason to turn them down.

    I often get the impression one atitude is they will spend for lavish, showy projects, (80s holdover) but do not want to “waste” money on less glamorous things, like cleaning something up, as its taken too literally as “money down the drain”.

    Anyone got any other anecdotes or examples of this?

    Reply
    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Yeah, sure!
      How about the osaka kindergarten that got a price reduction on its land for removal of toxic waste, which it then didn’t remove?
      Or how about a certain fish market relocation?

      Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    @ JIm, I mean vis a vis foreign companies to maintain the “mysterious”, “unique” Japanese culture as a raison d’etre for a closed market.
    “Oh, you dont understand Japanese customers”

    Real reason, we no longer have the money to buy foreign products, even if we like and are accustomed to the quality. But we are not going to admit that.

    Getting more like China every day, oh the irony.

    Reply
  • Edo Forsythe says:

    I find it troubling that the Chunichi newspaper report(er) didn’t provide details as to which labor contractors were violating these rules. If the paper wanted to do an expose on a human right violation, then they should have named names. Otherwise, the govt.can and will ignore the matter saying that they don’t have any details to go on. I’m not saying that this didn’t happen, but the facts seem shaky and I’m surprised that Reuters ran with the story without more solid details. The final paragraph is the root of the real problems here – it seems that they buried the lead. Thanks for sharing this, though, Debito!

    Reply

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