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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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Worn out: Day laborers rest outside the welfare center in the Airin district of Nishinari Ward, Osaka, on Saturday. KYODO PHOTO

Osaka day laborer duped into reactor cleanup

Staff writer

OSAKA — An Osaka day laborer who responded to an ad for a truck driver in Miyagi Prefecture found himself working beside the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, it was learned Monday.

The man, whose name has not been released, has filed a complaint with a job placement center in Osaka's Airin day labor district. The Osaka district labor bureau is also investigating the case.

According to the Airin center, a job notice came around March 17 from a Gifu-based firm, Hokuriku Koki, which was seeking a truck driver in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture. Onagawa is also home to a nuclear power station, but Yoji Takeshita, an Airin job center official, said the ad did not specify where the driver was supposed to take the truck.

The job promised ¥12,000 a day and the contract was for one month.

But about a week later, the man called the Airin center saying he was actually in Fukushima, not Miyagi Prefecture, and that he was wearing protective clothing and cleaning up debris around the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

On Monday, after the center spoke to the man and Hokuriku Koki, it was further learned he had spent about two weeks near reactors No. 5 and No. 6, working with water tankers to supply the pumps that were being used to keep them cool.

The reactors had been shut down for inspection before the March 11 quake and tsunami crippled most of the cooling systems.

The man completed his work and returned to Osaka in late April. But he filed a complaint with the Airin center, saying that while he was paid ¥24,000 a day — twice what he'd been promised — he didn't receive a radiation badge until the fourth day on the job and that the work was different from what he had been promised.

"We'd had dealings with Hokuriku Koki before and never had any problems," Takeshita said.

Masayuki Sakamoto, the president of Hokuriku Koki, told The Japan Times that they received a request from a subcontractor to place a job ad with the Airin center for a truck driver in Onagawa.

"I don't know why the man ended up working at a nuclear power plant. We were told he'd be working as a truck driver in Onogawa," Sakamoto said.

The Airin day laborers district has long been a source of cheap labor for utility companies and prefectures where nuclear power plants are located.

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The Japan Times

Article 3 of 11 in National news

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