Japan’s homeless paid minimum wage to clean up Fukushima nuclear fallout

BY newsdesk  December 30, 2013 at 5:20 PM EDT

Independent Television News’ Alex Thompson reported from Fukushima, Japan, more than two years after an earthquake damaged the Japanese nuclear plant in 2011, causing hundreds of tons of radioactive water to leak. Video by ITVN

Recruiters round up homeless men to help clean the radioactive areas affected by the meltdowns of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Reuters reports.

After being charged for food and shelter, the homeless men, who are recruited at a train station in the northern Japanese city of Sendai, accept an hourly rate just below the minimum wage in Fukushima. Some end up in debt after these deductions, while contractors reward headhunters who recruit the homeless with $100 a head. Reuters also reports that the clean-up of the 20-mile disaster zone is behind schedule due to little oversight of the radiation removal contracts and a shortage of workers.

The decontamination process is expected to take three decades to complete. The Tokyo Electric Power Co., TEPCO, has estimated the operation to cost at least $90 billion.