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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 22 - 28  > TEPCO decides to freeze its plan to have foreign workers engage in decommissioning work at Fukushima Daiichi NPP
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2019 May 22 - 28 [LABOR]

TEPCO decides to freeze its plan to have foreign workers engage in decommissioning work at Fukushima Daiichi NPP

May 24, 2019

Tokyo Electric Power Company on May 22 reported to the Labor Ministry that it made the decision to freeze its plan to have foreign workers engage in decommissioning work at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

TEPCO in April announced a plan to hire foreigners, who obtained the newly-introduced “Specified Skills” visa, to do decommissioning work at the Fukushima NPP. The new visa program was introduced for the purpose of encouraging understaffed industries, such as the construction industry, to accept foreign workers to solve labor shortages.

Regarding the TEPCO’s announcement, the Labor Ministry on April 23 at a House of Councilors committee meeting adopted a negative view in response to questioning by Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Nihi Sohei. At that time, the Fukushima operator showed no intention to retract its plan.

In the April 23 meeting, Nihi pointed out that at the Fukushima decommissioning site, workers are assigned to job duties involving working under conditions of being exposed to high-level radiation. He also pointed out that foreign workers with difficulty communicating in Japanese are considered to have a higher risk than Japanese co-workers of being involved in occupational accidents. He urged the government to instruct TEPCO not to employ foreign workers as decommissioning workers.

The Labor Ministry on May 21 issued to TEPCO a formal notice requesting the utility to carefully review the plan to use foreign workers for decommissioning work and report on the review.

On the following day, Nihi at an Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee meeting referred to the TEPCO decision to temporarily suspend the planned employment of foreign workers. He said that all ministries in charge of the Fukushima NPP decommissioning work have admitted that they have yet to set up criteria for judging foreign workers’ Japanese proficiency required at high risk workplaces. He again demanded that the government order TEPCO to withdraw the plan.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t argues against TEPCO’s plan to use foreign workers for decommissioning work at Fukushima Daiichi NPP [April 24, 2019]
> TEPCO intends to accept foreign workers to work on decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi NPP [April 20, 2019]
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