Safety at nuclear plants not even an election issue

December 12, 2012

By JUN SATO/ Staff Writer

Since the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, numerous reports have emerged of lax oversight in protecting workers from exposure to radiation and other health issues.

In point of fact, at least four workers at the stricken facility in Fukushima Prefecture north of Tokyo were required to shield their dosimeters with lead covers to produce lower radiation readings. The situation was exposed by The Asahi Shimbun in July.

On Dec. 7, the case of a subcontractor that ordered the workers to use lead covers to artificially lower readings on their dosimeters was referred to prosecutors. The individual in question is a former director of a company subcontracted by Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima plant.

In response to an Asahi Shimbun survey of the 12 main parties competing in the Dec. 16 Lower House election, the Tomorrow Party of Japan, New Komeito, Your Party and the Social Democratic Party said the central government, rather than subcontractors, should be in charge of handling the risks of radiation exposure among workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan said it will instruct TEPCO and its contractors to exercise more strict supervision over such matters.

In the survey, parties were allowed to select more than one answer.

To prevent exploitation by contractors and subcontractors, New Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party, Your Party and the Social Democratic Party said TEPCO should employ workers as direct hires.

New Komeito also proposed that the central government also get involved. This view was endorsed by the Tomorrow Party of Japan and New Party Nippon.

The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party called for tightening regulations with regard to subcontractors, while the DPJ supported stricter oversight by relevant government ministries and agencies.

Although no parties condoned multiple layers of subcontractors, the survey found that the DPJ and the LDP were wary about drastically overhauling the current structure.

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Please check a related story at (http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201212090052).

By JUN SATO/ Staff Writer
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Nuclear power plant workers shed their protective gear after work on Nov. 11, 2011 at J.Village, a soccer training center in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, that has been converted into the front line base for dealing with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Nuclear power plant workers shed their protective gear after work on Nov. 11, 2011 at J.Village, a soccer training center in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, that has been converted into the front line base for dealing with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Nuclear power plant workers shed their protective gear after work on Nov. 11, 2011 at J.Village, a soccer training center in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, that has been converted into the front line base for dealing with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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