Exploited Fukushima workers speak out

October 25, 2013

Fukushima workers share their experience, Norway rejects U.S. request for help with Syria’s chemical disarmament, and Madagascar votes for a new president. Today is Friday, October 25, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

Tetsuya Hayashi, former worker in Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, poses with a photo showing his ID for the plant issued by TEPCO in Tokyo, July 10, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Over-radiated and underpaid. The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co are relying on unvetted subcontractors  to recruit underpaid workers to clean up the worst nuclear disaster in decades. One former Fukushima employee spoke to Reuters about his experience:

[Tetsuya] Hayashi, 41, says he was recruited for a job monitoring the radiation exposure of workers leaving the plant in the summer of 2012. Instead, when he turned up for work, he was handed off through a web of contractors and assigned, to his surprise, to one of Fukushima’s hottest radiation zones. He was told he would have to wear an oxygen tank and a double-layer protective suit. Even then, his handlers told him, the radiation would be so high it could burn through his annual exposure limit in just under an hour. “I felt cheated and entrapped,” Hayashi said. “I had not agreed to any of this.” When Hayashi took his grievances to a firm on the next rung up the ladder of Fukushima contractors, he says he was fired.

The cleanup could cost $183 billion altogether, and take up to 40 years. Read the full report with more testimony from Fukushima workers here.

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Below, see scenes of fallout from the disasters and damage to the Fukushima power plant, and click through for more images.

A doctor conducts a thyroid examination on four-year-old Maria Sakamoto, brought by her mother to the office of Iwaki Radiation Citizen Centre NPO, in Iwaki town, south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, September 18, 2013.  REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture, some 4 miles from the crippled Daiichi power plant, September 22, 2013. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Count Norway out. On Friday, Norway denied a request from the U.S. to host the destruction of Syria’s chemical arms. According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Oslo and Washington concluded that “Norway is not the most suitable location for this destruction,” due to “time constraints and external factors.” U.S., NATO and Russian officials announced on Wednesday that NATO and Russia could participate in the chemical arms destruction if called upon by the United Nations. It’s illegal to import chemical weapons into the U.S. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to rid Syria of all chemical weapons stocks, a complicated process which is currently at its early stages.

Madagascar votes. Madagascar holds its presidential election in hopes of ending the political turmoil that began when current leader Andry Rajoelina seized power in a 2009 coup. EU observers said there have been issues with voting registration but that there have been no signs of intimidation, and that overall conditions are set for a fair electoral process.

A man walks past campaign posters outside a polling center in the capital Antananarivo, October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Voters hope political stability will help draw investors to the oil- and mineral-rich but economically weak country. There are no clear frontrunners of the 33 candidates, which means a runoff election will likely take place in December.

Nota Bene: Upset by U.S. spying allegations, Germany wants its own Internet.


No more status quo? – Reuters columnist Ian Bremmer says we may be seeing an end to the U.S.-Iran standoff. (Reuters)

Fame and Marxism – Celebrities seek office as members of Venezuela’s Socialist party. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Stuffed animal adventure – A travel agency will take your stuffed animals on a tour of Japan. (The Atlantic Cities)

Boys club – The only female presidential candidate is disqualified in Afghanistan. (Time)

Dope dupe – An elderly Australian couple is scammed into smuggling meth home from Canada. (The Australian)

From the File:

  • Pakistan extends custody of former dictator Musharraf.
  • Hundreds of migrants rescued in sea off Italy.
  • Rebels clash with army in East Congo after talks stall.
  • Japan secrecy act stirs fear about press freedom, right to know.
  • Greek couple arrested for buying Roma baby.
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