JAPAN-FINANCE-ECONOMY-HOMELESSby Alex Moore / via Death and Taxes / December 30, 2013 /

Japan has been running way behind schedule cleaning up the Fukushima disaster, which is now nearly three years old. Tons of nuclear waste spilled into the Pacific when an earthquake stuck the coast of Japan and a tsunami topped the nuclear reactors.

Cleaning up the nuclear waste is, as Reuters describes it, “one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world,” as it includes dangerous exposure to the toxic waste. Given the massive extent of the damage and the huge labor needed, it’s been a hell of a process, and the scheduling delays have had environmentalists (and sushi lovers) pulling their hair out.

But amidst the ongoing disaster there’s a new and disturbing trend popping up: The homeless are increasingly being hired to clean up the radioactive waste, for less than minimum wage. Reuters reports:

Homeless men were rounded up at Sendai’s train station by Sasa, then put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima City for less than minimum wage, according to police and accounts of those involved.

We are taking it very seriously that these incidents keep happening one after another,” said Junichi Ichikawa, a spokesman for Obayashi. He said the company tightened its scrutiny of its lower-tier subcontractors in order to shut out gangsters, known as the yakuza. “There were elements of what we had been doing that did not go far enough.”


FLASHBACK: Atomic mafia: Yakuza ‘cleans up’ Fukushima, neglects basic workers’ rights

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