The Japanese government continues to strengthen it’s prospects of providing electricity from nuclear power in Japan, when a commission proposed that the government introduce background checks on workers at nuclear stations. Japan ‘s nuclear industry has been exposed for using illegal workers at nearly all of it’s nuclear power stations, usually saving these subcontract workers to avoid the Employment Security Law which is designed to ensure proper working conditions are in place.
The commission has been discussing ways to strengthen security at nuclear facilities in light of recommendations from the International Atomic Energy Agency.The background checks may cover criminal records and financial situations such as loan balances. Many of the subcontract workers have been found to be affiliated with a variety of international criminal groups, most notably the Yakuza, a Japanese crime syndicate.
The Yakuza groups have long sent debtors to nuclear power plants as workers as a way of paying off loans made at sky-high rates, and the practice will likely continue to occur. The gangs, which are not illegal, have historically been tolerated by the authorities, although there are periodic clampdowns on some of their less savory activities.
Japan’s public has responded strongly against these findings and many have pushed to end the manipulation of legislation exhibited by the “disguised subcontracts.” Under the system, a subcontractor provides temporary staff to a general contractor, and they work under the instructions of the general contractor. Recently, Japanese authorities arrested three people accused of illegally dispatching a worker to a nuclear power plant from a construction company suspected of having links to an organized crime syndicate, Jiji Press reported.
The workers, desperate for income, hop from one nuclear plant to another for jobs they know are dangerous. The yakuza groups, seeing certain sources of income drying up, continue to take their cut from the system. And general contractors and the utilities themselves have not taken action because the system supplies a steady source of cheap labor. It is nearly impossible to trace workers after the 5th and 6th sub-contract companies, often the plant worker doesn’t know that he was recruited by a Yakuza group himself.
The draft report pointed out that the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi may have raised terrorists’ interest in nuclear plants. The report stated that not only reactors might be at risk but also power sources and cooling systems should be protected.
Many nuclear plant workers at Fukushima were linked to gangsters in the 1960s and the ’70s,” said a former employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co., who once worked at the plant. Crime syndicates dispatched the workers, and some of them were gangsters themselves, the former employee added.
TEPCO and its general contractors issued perfunctory warnings but largely ignored the practice because such workers were always in high demand.
Source: JIJI Press