Thousands in Japan protest nuclear power, conditions at Fukushima via Aljazeera

As regulators look to restart two reactors in southern Japan, workers at crippled Daiichi plant talk of dangers, low pay

Thousands of people in Tokyo have rallied against nuclear power as the government and utilities prepare to restart reactors in southern Japan.

More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Hibiya Park in Tokyo on Saturday to pressure the government not to restart the country’s nuclear power stations.

“Japan is prone to earthquakes. We have to seriously think about whether nuclear power is a good idea for Japan,” said protester Masatoshi Harada. “This is an opportunity for Japan to drop nuclear power.”


On Friday, nearly 100 workers who helped to clean up the crippled plant rallied outside the headquarters of Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), complaining they were forced to work for meager pay in dangerous conditions

Workers also rallied outside Maeda Corp Friday, one of the contractors hired to clean up the plant and surrounding areas.


Workplace hazards

Questions have continued to mount about the working conditions created by the web of Fukushima contractors and sub-contractors.

Several thousand employees at the plant are locked in a daily and dangerous scramble to keep the site from again spiraling out of control, making myriad repairs and building tanks for the vast amounts of water contaminated after being used to cool the fractured reactors.

Some demonstrators on Friday said they received far less pay than promised as various layers of bosses docked money for supplying meals, transportation and other expenses.

They also said many had not received a 10,000 yen daily premium ($98) for decontamination work.

“Workers at the Fukushima plant have been forced to do unreasonable tasks with no decent safety measures,” said one man in his 30s, who declined to give his name.

He said he was laid off after several months in the job due to heavy radiation exposure.

“Workers are forced to handle contaminated water in such grim working conditions, where any human being should not be put to work,” he said.

“They tend to make easy mistakes under the pressure, but it’s not they who are at fault — it’s the conditions that force them to do terrible tasks.”

Maeda Corp did not immediately respond to a request for comment about working conditions in the stricken area.

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