20-year-old documentary foreshadows Fukushima: Men picked up in slums of Tokyo to go work at nuclear plants — Many become ill with radiation sickness — Too frightened to speak out (VIDEO)

Published: January 19th, 2014 at 8:37 pm ET


Channel 4 (UK) ‘Nuclear Ginza’ Part I, Kenji Higuchi, 1995:

At 1:00 in

Kazuyuki Iwasa, nuclear worker: The diagnosis was “radio dermatitis secondary lymphedema”

Kenji Higuchi, photographer: How long did you work in the nuclear plant?

Iwasa: Two and a half hours.

At 2:00 in

Higuchi: I stumbled upon these stories as a young photographer 20 years ago, it changed my life. The scenes I saw, the stories I heard, I found them difficult to believe at first, like workers go near the reactor and get exposed and that many of them become ill with radiation sickness and sometimes die. Or that these people are farmers or fisherman or even laborers picked off the street in the slums of Osaka and Tokyo. But when I started looking, I found so many of these people, people who didn’t know what had happened to them, or if they did, too frightened to speak out. The thing that struck me was that all their stories were the same. […] People simply don’t believe this could happen in a country like Japan.

Watch Part I of the broadcast here

See also: [intlink id=”un-official-astounded-homeless-are-taken-to-work-in-fukushima-theyre-ready-to-go-die-pastor-at-end-of-month-theyre-left-with-no-pay-police-they-end-up-in-debt-to-employer” type=”post”]UN Official ‘Astounded’: Homeless are taken to work in Fukushima, ready to die — They live in Tokyo shanty towns inside plastic huts — Police: Workers end up in debt to employers after food and housing fees deducted (VIDEO)[/intlink]

Published: January 19th, 2014 at 8:37 pm ET


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61 comments to 20-year-old documentary foreshadows Fukushima: Men picked up in slums of Tokyo to go work at nuclear plants — Many become ill with radiation sickness — Too frightened to speak out (VIDEO)

  • clamshellernh clamshellernh

    What do you think minimum wage is ?
    It's surly not a living wage
    We are all serfs
    So the same for workers here in the USA
    Love canal a very economically depressed area
    Locations of power plants , and any other nasties are usually poor places
    Chemical alleys
    As long as the masses can shop at the box stores and buy junk they are blinded .
    I know I may have opened a can of worms here but just the posting of this story begs the discussion what else does it bring to the table here ?

    • Kashiko Kashiko

      Most general salaries are about 800 yen an hour (About 8 dollars US. Even my wife (Japanese) who is a highly qualified dental nurse only earns about that (Shop staff about the same. So they are probably paying a lot less than that to the down and outs.

      • weeman

        Governments and big business think people are a commodity, we are not a commodity we are human beings.
        We the people for the people and don't forget it and that goes for all societies.

    • We Not They Finally

      clamshellernh, don't know what the future will bring, but no, it's not that bad here YET anyway. Let us know when you have stories to back that up. Otherwise, it is just pushing people over an edge that we have not seen — as least not YET.

      Then we wind up with suicidal cynicism on top of problems that we obviously do already have. Like in the Gulf, people robbed of their livelihoods, then put to work in dangerous conditions and low wages cleaning up polluted beaches.

      That's horrible, but it's still not what is described above YET. Or maybe it is. But you should say what you are upset about. I'm all for exposing everything about anything, but blanket equivalencies just really don't help. You should specify.

      • clamshellernh clamshellernh

        We not finally what do you need to back up what and I'll see what I can do
        I do not believe my statement merited yours . Please explain

        • flatsville

          clam, I deal with toxic waste on a regular basis. Many "dumpers" use the homeless, trasient, etc…populations to do the "hands on" dirty work. In some instances those are the only people they will hire…and cash only…no records.

          This is common knowledge in the industry.

      • clamshellernh clamshellernh

        Perhaps you might want to look at mining in this country
        Look up how unions were formed
        Look at migrant workers in this country
        I did not want to start posting it but was ambivalent after this story was brought to the table here
        Hmm not that bad here yet , I guess you have never seen the people lined up to get picked up for possible employment that day .
        I guess you don't see what is happening to the homeless here
        I must stop because I'm upset now

    • Ontological Ontological

      Just don't catch any fish for supper with those worms. And I agree clam. Mindless shopping because the television tells them so. everything is money now. People don't even think how stupid they are, allowing this to happen to the Earth while in a mall with no idea. They are all too young, never have been taught anything worth knowing. When the mob of nearly 4 billion "children" get hungry. Well I hope by then to be checked out of Earthyworld.

  • charlie3

    "I know I may have opened a can of worms here but just the posting of this story begs the discussion what else does it bring to the table here?"
    clamshell, I don't understand what you are getting at here, and I want to. Can you please explain or re-phrase that?

    • clamshellernh clamshellernh

      Well for starters we are talking about hiring practices , we are talking about companies that don't care about workers , morals and ethics . Not fukishima just that this happens there too . What do you glen from the placement of this type of story here .? That's all
      I'm not saying it's wrong or right
      I'm curious to see what we do with this here .
      Sorry if I sound flippant that is not my intent
      I love this site and the people here .

      • Kashiko Kashiko

        I live here (Japan) and have for the last 12 years. It's normal here and not so surprising for me. It's as everyone has already said, shopping and Iphone's are the only things that matter to the cattle. Well done for posting this clamshellernh. It shows that this practice is endemic in Japanese culture.

        • Kashiko Kashiko

          As an add-on; One of my students worked at Kashiwazaki nuclear power plant. I worked there as a teacher for a while until there was an accident there a few years ago which was covered up and no one knew what had happened. Anyway, he told me that one day he was sent into a room in the reactor building to mop up some water. he was given a mop, a bucket and some rubber boots. Nothing else. His boss refused to tell him where the water had come from and whether it was dangerous but he had no choice but to comply. He was quite worried about that situation and was why he talked to me. That wasn't the only story I heard. The problems have been going on for a long time. I think the JP nuclear industry has been living on borrowed time for a long time.

        • SykeWar(DELETED) SykeWar

          tatemae and honne. I think deep down though, some are worried. Esp. if they have kids. Divorces going up?

  • Japan has a long history of using temp workers for radiation exposure work. Big paper trail of nothing makes work comp cases impossible. O'Bummer is sooooo jealous.

    • We Not They Finally

      And you think that who you call "O'Bummer" is worse than anyone else who would be in office now? This is gratuitous. It doesn't help. Like if I called you "MarkJackass", how would that help?

  • charlie3

    clamsheller, I'm not criticizing you or your post, just trying to understand what you are getting at. The article shows that the contempt for health and safety in the japanese nuke industry has always been as it is now.
    Fukushima disaster has put a light on a neglected/accepted industry and shows that accidents are frequent at NPPs in general, and safety measures inadequate.

    • clamshellernh clamshellernh

      Charli I know you were not criticizing me so it's all good , sometimes you have to read what I write more than once as I write like I'm talking and it can be misinterpret . Plus this iPad has a mind of its own since it has cracks and spell check rewrites .

  • or-well

    It's a Yakuza Paloosa
    crime-riddled tsunami –
    all Official Japan a bigtime crime family;
    hands in the pockets thru rackets, protection,
    that classic pork – un-needed construction,
    handouts from J-Gov thru business connections,
    gangsters and tattoos and nuke expertise –
    the cops are in handcuffs
    and crooks do as they please.
    Someone yelled "Hands Up – all those who are hostage!"
    The Government arms were a forest of sausage.
    No help there; they're no better than garbage.
    Maybe citizens swollen with samurai courage
    will someday deliver the needed message.

    • bo bo

      I love it!

      I wish there was a poetry forum here, to archive the great poetry/haikus as they pop up in threads?

      • or-well

        bo, it's been suggested, but never happened; not enough demand, I guess. I have always thought an anti-nuke graphics forum would be good; then folks could pull stuff from both, maybe make use of it in some way.
        Glad you liked that. I dug a long way back for it.

      • James Tekton James Tekton

        "I wish there was a poetry forum here, to archive the great poetry/haikus as they pop up in threads?"

        That is how they happen.

        Manifest a seed, and shazam!

        Write to Adame.


  • clamshellernh clamshellernh

    Charlie and I say it is no different here or there or any countries . It's awful just look at what the industry has done to the gulf states . Look at virginia . I welcome discourse it may be an education for some , I hope the science minded folk don't get mad .

    • We Not They Finally

      That's what I meant by my response to you above. (Posted that after you posted this.) We need examples like the Gulf states, whose people have been treated disgracefully, not just the general overall cynicism out there.

      I cannot condone ANY country treating its citizens with contempt as to whether they even live or die.

  • charlie3

    You're right. Hopefully the organisms that arise and evolve after the radiation dies down will treat each other more kindly than we do.

  • roger0ne2


    what an ugly world, Nuclear.

    Twenty years ago, and Japanese.

  • Kashiko Kashiko

    What pisses me off is not the accident itself, these things happen, but the fact that they don't really understand the technology and they had no plans in place for an emergency and no real procedures to deal with such an emergency. That is what makes me angry.

    • SykeWar(DELETED) SykeWar

      Often, it's not what you do, that determines what kind of a people you are, it's what you do afterwards. This is what redemption is based on.

    • or-well

      Kashiko – and no personal liability when things go wrong, it's all buried in organisations; the Gov, a Ministry, a regulator, an agency, a corporation.
      SOMEONE made a decision every step of the way, from siting the plant, to reviewing earthquake and tsunami studies, to reactor design, to cover up of damage and failures,, to every oversight and error and omission after the catastrophe, but NO ONE ever pays – except the people, the victims.

    • We Not They Finally

      Kashiko, no, it is NOT like "accidents just happen." What the crap were they doing building a nuclear plant on an earthquake fault, an aquifer, on porous ground and on the ocean?

      What was anyone in their right mind doing building that IN THE FIRST PLACE? And then inviting in mountains and mountains of lethal nuclear fuel?

      You cannot possibly think that that would be "fine" just so long as they understood the tech and planned for an emergency. There are no circumstances anywhere in the world where that is "fine."

  • Capt. Nemo Capt. Nemo

    Just like the old days before they rolled out social justice and made sure the TV networks did pretty stories about the wonderful governments. Not like bad old China. And England now is in terrible shape due to their help the rich programs. Too bad there is no longer colonies to ship the petty starving criminals to. Later on perhaps a new life on Mars.

    • Kashiko Kashiko

      Don't say that captain N, I and my wife and sons are moving from Japan back to England in 10 days. The lesser of 2 evils maybe?

      • SykeWar(DELETED) SykeWar

        Just don't unpack all the way. Only what you need to. Watch the middle east – the war drums are beating. They can reach europe from there – beware. If peace is not assured soon, there may be war.

        • Kashiko Kashiko

          If I stay here there will likely be a war with China. Australia or New Zealand anyone?

          • charlie3

            The China-Japan tension is getting to the point where it may be impossible to stuff the genie back in the bottle.
            China's bosses need to distract 1.4 billion restless people who are beginning to realize that the economic boom is over and they didn't get rich like the 1%, and Japan has long been in an economic doldrum, suffers from tsunami depression, and the knowledge that fukushima has destroyed the country – that makes it seem like war of some kind is coming.

        • clamshellernh clamshellernh

          Yes and watch what is going on with Korea China and japan and those islands …japan is on a buying frenzy with weapons .

          • We Not They Finally

            Yoichi Shimatsu marks Shinzo Abe as an ultra-right war hawk who still thinks that Japan should have won WW II. Their country is in the hands of lunacy and should be internationally boycotted.

            I hope that (if so) at the first sign of Japanese aggression, Japan is crushed. The sooner the better, for the sake of the rest of the world. This guy SO needs to be stopped.

            There may even be a lot of Japanese who think the same thing, for all we know. (How would we?)

      • We Not They Finally

        Kashiko, you are right to leave and glad you are able to do so. (I have no idea why SykeWar is trying to frighten you.)

      • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

        oops…there is no place to hide from the growing Black Plague called Nuclear Radiation Contamination! 🙁

  • guevara3712

    https://www.facebook.com/thepeoplesentinel here's a link to the local newspaper facebook page for barnwell where they have the tritium plume. they did their annual tests recently and found a tritium plume, which they are telling people is the same plume they've had there since 1978. tritium has half life 12 years and becomes part of the water itself, so i guess the groundwater at the site has not moved for 34 years. this is my area 1 county south of me, anybody feel free to comment on this facebook page and settem' straight.(i put my 2 cents already)

    • harengus_acidophilus

      FreakBoard spy page?

      "a link to the local newspaper facebook page"

      Do you know, the facebook spy button on THIS page (ENE) collects your identity, if you have a FB cookie in your computer? And it doesn't matter if you are logged in or not.


  • Capt. Nemo Capt. Nemo

    Something went wrong when I replied to Kashiko. Instead of posting my response it reported his comment. Sorry.
    As I was saying in the lost comment, Sorry. England is certainly preferable. But it has gone down hill a lot in recent years like the USA. I may just hang out at the center of the earth for a while.

  • weegokiburi weegokiburi

    Reuters had a good report about the levels of subcontractors that allow TEPCO to distance themselves from taking responsibility for workers safety on site.
    The Yakuza are making a healthy profit from the exploitation of a large underclass that exists in Japan.

    They have been doing it for years.

  • Kahlest Kahlest

    Hi I just joined the site, and found it a couple of weeks ago. This article really highlights something for me. People seem to be under a misguided conception that governments work to protect you. In all honesty they don't. They could care less we are all replaceable. I know in other articles there are now politicians in Japan who are planning to run on a platform of elimination of nuclear power, the difficulty is how deeply involved is the mafia? We know Tepco has used them to find workers already but how involved are they? How much influence do they currently have in government?

    • or-well

      Kahlest -short answer – read my poem above. It's not much of an exaggeration. When it comes to the "nuclear village", that mutually embedded alliance of State/Business/Media/Academe, there's plenty of crookedness without Japan's organised crime organisations.

      In other words, Big Nuke has plenty of backers, including the banks.

      To really answer your last question, one would have to examine individual politicians and the records of their contributors, and identify which persons and business entities were Yakuza-connected, such as in construction, labor, transportation, waste-disposal, building materials etc.

      When it comes to nuclear power, that industry doesn't need the Yakuza to give the OK. As a supplier of low-level workers, it may be critical. That may be changing, as even the underclass becomes aware of the dangers.

      Will the Yakuza become more important as labor suppliers, or will the Gov find a way to replace them, perhaps with conscription?

  • name999 name999

    In the meantime, the planet seems to be heading toward destruction. Must stop this.

  • weegokiburi weegokiburi

    Re yakuza connections
    There is an interesting photo from 2008 showing Abe (prime minister) Huckabee( US politician) and Icchu Nagamoto ( top financier of Yamaguchi Gumi…Japan's largest yakuza group)

    How well connected are the Yakuza? Work it out for yourself

    • We Not They Finally

      Mike Huckabee isn't a real smart guy. God knows why he was there. He was probably trying to run for U.S. President at the time and had some misguided idea about how to do that.

  • weegokiburi weegokiburi

    Oops forgot link
    Sorry I
    Im a proud Luddite

  • James Tekton James Tekton

    Might be some good radiation info discussed on the Dave Hodges show tonight.


    Listen link on right.

  • For All at Enenews who are compelled to alert the People

    The World deserves to know about Fukushima. Tell the People. TY

  • clamshellernh clamshellernh

    Chemfood thank you for being on top of it sharing , you brought me comfort when I first arrived here

  • Ontological Ontological

    I live for ENENEWS, I survived skull cancer, with the hope of at least SOME news of this disaster. To this day we(wife & I) ask people we know world wide, have you prepared? Most do not even know, care, nor understand. In our circle we have watched many die from mysterious causes. Doctors unthinkingly order irradiance for a multitude of things. They don't stop to think all that does is add to your ever growing background. I don't care for money, but I feel guilty to have been FORCED to pay for such a shoddy government.
    Mr. Obama I appeal to your humanity if you have any; STOP this insane madness at the mercy of so few ruthless ELitE money grubbers. There are secrets in QED (quantum electro dynamics) that can reverse this insanity. Money right now should be to regain our world, clean it up for the next generations. Your attitude of WE in government will smoke POT, and the rest can go DIE is LUDACRISS! Where the hell is your HUMANITY?! Lady Michelle, you are a jewel of a human being, please for the sake of at least your girls. STOP the madness NOW! I beg of your humanity find a way to force the RICH to help with this mindless idiocy! Hiding behind the very funds that can stop this from killing Earth is the work of the Devil, and you are the pawns. We cannot play almost 500 games on this ridiculously old chess set, with both kings missing.


  • Cisco Cisco

    Nuclear gypsies…the way the nuclear industry sacrifices unknowing, desperate people to work in highly radioactive conditions. Only able to work for a few minutes or a few hours, and then discharged because these poor souls have received lifetime dosages, and even more, for low wages, but higher than the general population. Most will suffer premature sickness and death. All are required to sign secrecy agreements knowing they can/will be prosecuted for public disclosure.

    Following is a link/story about St. Lucie Nuclear PP… http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2012/jul/05/fpl-bringing-in-4000-workers-to-increase-st/.

    You can find dozens of stories like this all over the US. It's just SOP in this horrendous business of death and destruction.

  • daphne daphne

    First post. I've been reading for several months. I am in western Massachusetts and know little about nuclear power. I remember watching and reading "on the Beach" as a teenager and being scared sh&$tless. My mom protested at Seabrook and was arrested and I have been aware since I was a kid about the doomsday clock. At 51, having just survived treatment for large B cell non Hodgkin's lymphoma and also being diagnosed with hyperthyroid I am not afraid to die- we will all do that someday- but I am so sad for our children and this beautiful earth…
    As many have said, no one wants to hear about it. I have heard about many strange and unexplainable symptoms in others close to me. My son had blood in his urine and pain in his kidneys last week 27 years old and very health conscious. His wife 26 just diagnosed with both lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. My friends sister just admitted to the hospital with violent t bloody diarrhea a few days after returning from Las Vegas by plane. So many young people with cancer. My dad developed lung cancer in August 2011 and died by December.
    My EKG has been weird for a few years also. Dropped beats that make my pulse fluctuate wildly from 70 to 40 bpm…. Sad, scared, and angry just about sums it up.

  • InJapan

    This story was also never reported in Japan:
    <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/493133.stm&quot; title="Tokaimura in 1999">

    I was here back then and this information was never published in Japan. I showed this to the people I work with who all live within a few miles of Takaimura and none of them believed me at the time. They said it was just foreign media exaggerating the severity of the incident and that homeless people would never be used for such a thing. They basically laughed at me for being another gullible gaijin.
    Ok, so the Internet was not so popular then in Japan and people believed Big Brother without questioning anything. But now, there are so many sources of information about what is happening at Fukushima and yet most Japanese seem not to care and even re-elect Abe and the other fascists that are responsible for this mess. It beggars belief….

  • Homeless Being Pressed Into Servitude At Fukushima, End Up With No Pay Or In Debt To Gangsters; via @AGreenRoad

  • Fukushima Workers 'Allowed' 250 mSv/yr, Compared To 20 mSv/yr For US Nuclear Industry Workers; via @AGreenRoad