Crime

Japanese Gangsters Hire Homeless To Clean Up Fukushima

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Almost three years after the nuclear disaster, a lack of oversight on clean-up has resulted in shady dealings.

The country has spent $35 billion to clean up radioactive fallout in a massive area of Japan. At least 733 companies are part of the operation, under the charge of the Ministry of Environment.

But Reuters says a top construction contractor, Obayashi, has ties to the three of the largest crime syndicates in the country. Gangsters have established illegal recruiting rings, pulling homeless people off the street to work and paying them less than minimum wage.

One recruiter, Seiji Sasa, said he would find workers at a train station and give them jobs through a number of smaller contractors, which reported to Obayashi.

Obayashi apparently was not aware of the scheme.

Deductions were made from the recruit’s pay for food, housing, and cut for the middlemen. Sometimes the workers made so little that they had nothing left after the deductions or were even in debt.

"Many homeless people are just put into dormitories, and the fees for lodging and food are automatically docked from their wages," said Yasuhiro Aoki, a Baptist pastor and homeless advocate. "Then at the end of the month, they're left with no pay at all."

Gangsters are fined, but it’s not enough to stop the practice. One official told Reuters that the mafia is endemic to the industry.

"If you don't get involved (with gangs), you're not going to get enough workers," said one company manager. "The construction industry is 90 percent run by gangs."

Sources: Newser, Reuters