A Vietnamese technical intern trainee unwittingly engaged in decontamination work in areas riddled with radioactive materials released after the nuclear accident triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.
The hazardous nature of the work was not disclosed to the 24-year-old man in advance.
Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ), a nationwide network of nongovernmental organizations and individuals to protect the rights of migrant workers, revealed on March 14.
The man was promised opportunities to gain professional skills in construction machinery, dismantling and public engineering while working at a construction firm in Morioka when he came to Japan from Vietnam in September 2015 under Japan’s job training program for foreign workers.
However, such aims were ignored when he was dispatched to carry out decontamination work in radiation-hit Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, from October 2015 through March 2016.
He did the work under the direction of a subcontractor after taking a short-term course on construction at a cooperative association in Morioka.
The man allegedly complained that he was not informed that decontamination work would be part of the deal when he had signed an employment contract in Vietnam, and it was not stated in the contract.
The revelation came to light after the man escaped from the company’s dormitory in November 2017 in fear of having being exposed to radiation because he had also been dispatched to a designated evacuation zone to engage in demolition work.
“Decontamination work is not appropriate for the Technical Intern Training Program,” a Justice Ministry spokesperson said on March 14.