'UN human rights experts have slammed the Japanese government for the alleged exploitation of “tens of thousands” of workers, as well as migrants and the homeless, said to be cleaning up the mangled Fukushima nuclear plant.
In a three-way joint statement, released Thursday via the United Nations, the human rights experts detailed their deep concern over the “possible exploitation by deception regarding the risks of exposure to radiation, possible coercion into accepting hazardous working conditions because of economic hardships, and the adequacy of training and protective measures” following the 2011 disaster.
“The people most at risk of exposure to toxic substances are those most vulnerable to exploitation: the poor, children and women, migrant workers, people with disabilities and older workers,” the statement says.
The experts added that they were “equally concerned about the impact that exposure to radiation may have on [the workers] physical and mental health” and called on the Japanese government to protect those “who are reportedly being exploited and exposed to toxic nuclear radiation in efforts to clean up the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.”
Japan’s Foreign Ministry has hit back, saying that the statement could cause unnecessary confusion. “It’s regrettable, as the statement [is] based on one-sided allegations that could exacerbate the suffering of people in the disaster-hit areas,” an unnamed official at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry told Japanese news agency Kyodo. “We properly handled problematic cases in the past and do not regard it as a situation which requires any urgent response.”'
Read more: Homeless & migrant workers ‘exploited’ to clean up Fukushima radiation, UN warns
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