TEPCO engages the services of foreign skilled workers

Last month, on the 1 st of April 2019, the government of Japan implemented its revised immigration policy and introduced a new visa program designed to welcome foreign skilled workers to address the severe lack of manpower that haunt various sectors in the country.


In line with this, the Tokyo Electric Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) confirmed its plans to allow foreign workers to work in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was gravely affected by the mega quake and tsunami way back in 2011.


Photo credit to: https://www.japantimes.co.jp

After hearing of TEPCO’s announcement, labor minister Takumi Nemoto conveyed his concerns mostly on how to handle long-term health management standards once these foreign workers return home after expiration of their visa. Nemoto told reporters that the decision to engage foreign workers in decommissioning work at the disaster-affected nuclear plant must be carefully considered further adding that, “It is necessary to establish a safety and health management procedure that is equivalent or more advanced than that for Japanese workers.”


In response, TEPCO stated that its foreign workers under the new visa program are allowed to engage not only in the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but also in building, cleaning, and food service positions.


TEPCO engages the services of around 4,000 workers daily for the nuclear plant all of whom are required to carry with them personal dosimeters to monitor and measure the amount of radiation exposure.


In view of the hazardous nature of the work, the government of Japan has urged TEPCO to implement systems or standard procedures that regulate the amount of radiation exposure for those engaged in decommissioning the nuclear plant. Likewise, requests have been made for TEPCO to conduct a feasibility study on the use of foreign languages for safety training and warnings at the workplace specifically intended for foreign workers who are not as proficient in the language and customs of Japan.


TEPCO appears to have everything in order stating that their foreign workers are strictly required to be proficient enough to accurately comprehend the risks involved and comply with the instructions or procedures communicated in the Japanese language.


According to reports, the Japanese Ministry has enacted an ordinance which mandates the payment of competitive salaries for foreign workers to prevent any possible labor exploitation. In this regard, foreign hires are expected to receive equivalent or higher wages than Japanese nationals for the same work or position.


Reference: TEPCO urged to be cautious about using foreign workers in Fukushima


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