Asylum Seekers Forced to Work In Decontamination of Fukushima

Two Bangladeshi asylum seekers, found shelter in Japan through a decontamination job in Fukushima with false promise, the news reported Wednesday.

As the Fukushima nuclear plant suffered greatly from several meltdowns after the tsunami in 2011, contractors had trouble finding workers to decontaminate the radioactive top soil.

The two men were actually running away from a political persecution when the contractors told them that their visas would be extended for a longer period of time if they did the decontamination job. Chunichi also quoted one of the men, Monir Hossain:

“We believed the visa story because they said it’s a job Japanese people don’t want to do.”

Chunichi said:

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

While Japan keeps its strict policy regarding admitting foreign workers, asylum seekers have a better chance at finding work while their visa application is reviewed. Mitsushi Uragami, a Justice Ministry official in Japan, recognized the problem and stated that there is no promise for permanent residency if the applicant works at a decontamination job. Urugami told Reuters:

“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. The department was investigating the case.”

Takuya Nomoto, an Environment Ministry official, stated that there have been no names of the contractors or laborers involved in the decontamination work. According to the Fukushima Labour Bureau, last year, more than half of the 1,020 companies working in decontamination industry have violated labor and safety laws. Nomoto said:

“The ministry expects all contractors involved in decontamination to comply with the law.”

Reuters published that in 2013, homeless men worked in the decontamination jobs for less than the minimum wage.

[via reuters]

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