Fukushima: TEPCO uses Organized Crime forced labour
Japanese-style predatory capitalism
People who fall into debt to loan sharks are often forced by the Yakuza to work in nuclear power plants, said a Japanese journalist who has written a book on his experience working at the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant this summer.
About ten percent of workers at the damaged Fukushima 1 plant were brought in by the Japanese mafia, said Tomohiko Suzuki. Though the Yakuza is deeply involved in the nuclear power industry, its members themselves don’t work at the plants, added Suzuki. Instead they have an established practice of sending debtors there as a way to pay off their debts to loan sharks.
Suzuki is a freelance journalist who has covered the yakuza for several years. He was hired through a sub-contractor to Toshiba, one of Japan’s leading builders of nuclear power plant equipment. He was assigned a job related to reprocessing contaminated water at the Fukushima 1 plant during July and August.
“(TEPCO) was pushing for sloppy construction as it has been in a hurry to achieve cold shutdown as quickly as possible,” said Suzuki in his book. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is the utility that operates the Fukushima 1 plant.
There has been no Yakuza involvement in efforts to clean up the plant, said a TEPCO spokeswoman.
“We are taking action under the law against crime syndicates, and we understand that our contractors are properly hiring employees,” she told AFP.
Workers struggling to bring the Fukushima plant’s reactors under control have been exposed to high levels of radiation. The Japanese media has reported frequently on TEPCO’s apparent disregard for safety standards toward the public as well as toward contracted workers involved in the cleanup effort.
The government has scheduled a press conference for Friday to announce that the plant has been stabilized as the temperature of the cooling water around the reactors have consistently been below the boiling point, and that it was ready for a “cold shutdown”. Suzuki disputes this claim, arguing that the plant remains “in a state of crisis”.
The Yakuza has been linked to gambling, protection, drugs, prostitution, loan sharking, intimidation of troublesome shareholders at corporate annual meetings, money laundering, graft and an assortment of white-collar crimes. Periodically law enforcement has cracked down on some of its more visible activities, but because of an oddly symbiotic and longstanding relationship with the government and law enforcement, yakuza — which is actually comprised of many “families” — has been tolerated by the authorities.
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