Japan probes under-reporting of Fukushima radiation dosage

Japan’s Health Ministry has said it will investigate reports that workers at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant were urged by a subcontractor to place lead around radiation detection devices in order to stay under a safety threshold for exposure.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported Saturday that an executive from Build-Up, a subcontractor to plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), had told workers to cover the devices, called dosimeters, when working in high-radiation areas.

Dosimeters can be worn as badges or carried as devices approximately the size of a smartphone to detect radiation.

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Burakumin: Japan’s Untouchables

If the job is dirty or dangerous or carries a social stigma, hire the Burakumin. They will take the job. They have few options and, like everyone else in Japanese society, need money to live–even in their ghettos. Besides, that’s what a permanent “untouchable” class is for.

It was that way centuries ago when the Samurai class created the Burakumin to take care of society’s dirty work. And it is that way now, when the wreckage of four nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi needs to be cleaned up, and the utility does not want to waste trained employees on jobs that will contaminate them and make them ineligible for further work in the nuclear field.

“They are the ‘throwaway people,” said Yuki Tanaka, professor of history at the Hiroshima Peace Institute in Japan’s Hiroshima City University. “They are the Untouchables.”

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