UN experts cite ‘possible exploitation’ of workers hired to clean up toxic Japanese nuclear plant

IAEA/Gill Tudor
Rubble from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

A group of United Nations rights experts are urging the Japanese government to urgently protect tens of thousands or workers hired to help decontaminate the Fukushima nuclear plant, who are reportedly being exploited and exposed to toxic nuclear radiation.

“Workers hired to decontaminate Fukushima reportedly include migrant workers, asylum seekers and people who are homeless,” said the three UN Special Rapporteurs.

“We are deeply concerned about possible exploitation by deception regarding the risks of exposure to radiation, possible coercion into accepting hazardous working conditions because of economic hardships, and the adequacy of training and protective measures,” they added.

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan in March 2011, which was followed by a tsunami that inundated everything along the eastern coastline around Fukushima Prefecture.

Subsequently, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed of an explosion at one of the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that leaked radioactive material. Three of the reactors failed, and hundreds of thousands were evacuated from the area.

Seven years after the nuclear meltdown, contamination and exposure to radiation remain a hazard for workers trying to make the area safe.

“We are equally concerned about the impact that exposure to radiation may have on their physical and mental health,” the experts asserted.

Since that time, tens of thousands of workers have been recruited under a decontamination programme.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare indicated on its website that 46,386 workers were employed at Fukushima during 2016; and the Radiation Worker Central Registration Centre of Japan showed that as many as 76,951 decontamination workers were hired in the five-year period up to 2016.

“The people most at risk of exposure to toxic substances are those most vulnerable to exploitation: the poor, children and women, migrant workers, people with disabilities and older workers,” the experts continued. “They are often exposed to a myriad of human rights abuses, forced to make the abhorrent choice between their health and income, and their plight is invisible to most consumers and policymakers with the power to change it.”

The UN rights experts have engaged in a dialogue with the Government since last year, taking into account a reply to their most recent concerns, including “detailed reports” flagging that decontamination contracts were granted without relevant experience.

“These arrangements, together with the use of brokers to recruit a considerable number of the workers, may have created favourable conditions for the abuse and violation of workers’ rights,” the UN experts said.

As part of its Universal Periodic Review, Japan recently agreed to follow-up on a recommendation to restore pre-radiation levels to protect the health of pregnant women and children.

The experts offered their services on how to address the ongoing issue of workers exposed to toxic radiation.

In September, one of the UN experts, Baskut Tuncak, who covers environmental management and disposal of hazardous substances, will present a report to the UN Human Rights Council, calling on States and employers to strengthen protection for workers from exposure to toxic substances.

The two other UN experts in discussion with the Japanese Government are Urmila Bhoola, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, and Dainius Puras, who champions the right to physical and mental health.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Our present and future tax payments usurped by banks

Why Italy will not follow the Greek road; Eurozone to change or unravel

Worldwide UN family celebrates enduring universal values of human rights

We are close yet so far…

China hopes EU Commissioner De Gucht drops super anti-dumping tariff on solar panels

Can the EU last long if it cuts Cyprus out?

Could Rwanda become Africa’s healthcare leader?

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

EU-UK: A deal synonymous to ‘remain’, England pays the Irish price

Court of Auditors: EU budget money is there to be spent not to create value

“BEUC cautions against TTIP that would seek to align EU and US chemicals management frameworks”

EU Top Jobs summit ended with no agreement: welcome to Europe’s quicksand!

A new bioeconomy strategy for a sustainable Europe

Window for a Brexit deal: Brussels to think again May’s proposal

MEPs react to breaches of human rights in Moldova, Burundi and Somalia

MWC 2016 LIVE: Telenor CEO calls on operators to embrace Mobile Connect initiative

European Commission recommends to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in Brexit negotiations

European Youth Capital 2019 announced: Novi Sad, Serbia

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

7 key challenges for the future of ASEAN – and how to solve them

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

‘Dire consequences’ for a million children in the Middle East, North Africa, as funding dwindles

Dear China

Respect people’s peaceful assembly and fair trail rights, UN human rights wing urges Nicaragua

Despite funding crisis, Palestine refugee classrooms set to stay open, says UNRWA

How wealthy people transmit this advantage to their children and grand children

ECB should offer more and cheaper liquidity if Eurozone is to avoid recession

Aid teams respond to escalating southwest Syria conflict: 750,000 civilians are at risk

Social inclusion: how much should young people hope from the EU? 

Parliament adopts its position on digital copyright rules

To win combat against HIV worldwide, ‘knowledge is power’, says UNAIDS report

Africa’s inspiring innovators show what the future could hold

IMF: All you want to know about Argentina

EU’s Bank signs € 150 million loan to India as part of record investment in clean energy

Why Eurozone’s problems may end in a few months

Have central banks missed the exit train?

For how long will terror and economic stagnation be clouding the European skies?

Charlie’s tragedy energized deeper feelings amongst Europeans; back to basics?

Trump asked Merkel to pay NATO arrears and cut down exports ignoring the EU

We can’t tell if we’re closing the digital divide without more data

Erasmus+: an expected budget of €3 billion to be invested in young Europeans and to help create European Universities in 2019

UNICEF appeals for end to ‘war on children’ in Syria and Yemen

Economic sentiment and business climate stagnate in miserable euro area

UN chief condemns attack targeting international forces in northern Mali

Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament should ask Council to act, say committee MEPs

Budget MEPs approve €104.2 m in EU aid to Greece, Spain, France and Portugal

Lithuania vs Parliament over 2014 EU budget

Further reforms can foster more inclusive labour markets in The Netherlands

Banks suffocate the real economy by denying loans

EU’s new environmental policy on biofuels impacts both the environment and the European citizen

Northern Ireland: Parliament wants to secure post-Brexit regional funding

A Sting Exclusive: “Europe must be more ambitious in COP21 and lead on climate finance and sustainable development”, Green UK MEP Jean Lambert points out from Brussels

Russia and the West use the same tactics to dismember Ukraine

Campaign kicks off with High-level Event on #FairInternships

How dearly will Germany pay for the Volkswagen emissions rigging scandal

11 lessons the history of business can teach us about its future

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

A Sting Exclusive: “Junior Enterprises themselves carry out projects focusing on the environment”, JADE President Daniela Runchi highlights from Brussels

Is Data Privacy really safe seen through Commissioner’s PRISM?

‘Passport to dignity’ that schools represent may expire fast, without emergency funding warns UN Palestine refugee agency

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s