Ja­pan firms used for­eign trainees at Fukushima cleanup: Report

The mis­con­duct was un­cov­ered in a probe by the jus­tice min­istry con­ducted af­ter a Viet­namese trainee was found in March to have par­tic­i­pated in cleanup work in Fukushima

The Hitavada - - WORLD -

FOUR Ja­panese com­pa­nies made for­eign trainees in the coun­try to learn pro­fes­sional skills take part in de­con­tam­i­na­tion work af­ter the Fukushima nu­clear dis­as­ter, lo­cal me­dia said on Fri­day.

The re­ports cited a Jus­tice Min­istry in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but the min­istry de­clined im­me­di­ate com­ment.

The re­ports are likely to re­vive crit­i­cism of the for­eign trainee pro­gramme, which has been ac­cused of plac­ing work­ers in sub­stan­dard con­di­tions and jobs that pro­vide few op­por­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing.

The mis­con­duct was un­cov­ered in a probe by the jus­tice min­istry con­ducted af­ter a Viet­namese trainee was found in March to have par­tic­i­pated in cleanup work in Fukushima, pub­lic broad­caster NHK said.

A pow­er­ful earth­quake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to melt­downs at the Fukushima nu­clear plant, caus­ing the world’s worst such ac­ci­dent since Ch­er­nobyl in 1986.

The jus­tice min­istry said af­ter the March dis­cov­ery that de­con­tam­i­na­tion work was not ap­pro­pri­ate for for­eign trainees.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear how many trainees were forced to take part in the de­con­tam­i­na­tion work. Lo­cal me­dia said one of the four compa nies has been slapped with a five-year ban on ac­cept­ing new for­eign trainees.

The min­istry has fin­ished its probe into 182 con­struc­tion com­pa­nies that hire for­eign trainees, and will look into an­other 820 firms by the end of Septem­ber, lo­cal me­dia said.

Ja­pan has been ac­cept­ing for­eign trainees un­der the gov­ern­ment pro­gramme since 1993 and there were just over 250,000 in the coun­try in late 2017.

But crit­ics say the trainees of­ten face poor work con­di­tions in­clude ex­ces­sive hours and ha­rass­ment.

The num­ber of for­eign trainees who ran away from their em­ploy­ers jumped from 2,005 in 2012 to 7,089 in 2017, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry sur­vey. Many cited low pay as the main rea­son for run­ning away.

The report comes as Ja­pan’s gov­ern­ment moves to bring more for­eign work­ers into the coun­try to tackle a labour short­age caused by the coun­try’s age­ing, shrink­ing pop­u­la­tion.

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