Gangster illegally hired workers for decontamination projects

January 31, 2013

By KENJI OGATA/ Senior Staff Writer

Criminal organizations are cashing in on the disaster that shook Japan nearly two years ago by sinking their claws into all aspects of recovery operations to skim off handsome profits.

Police have just turned up an instance of a gang member brazenly providing laborers to help clean up contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, and pocketing part of their wages.

The Yamagata prefectural police said 40-year-old Yoshinori Arai broke the law because he did not have a license to dispatch day laborers.

Police said Arai, a resident of Higashine, Yamagata Prefecture, is a top member of a yakuza gang affiliated with leading crime syndicate Sumiyoshi-Kai. He was arrested Jan. 31.

According to an investigative source, Arai dispatched three day laborers to a Yamagata Prefecture subcontractor doing decontamination work in Date on 10 occasions in November. Their tasks included weeding.

It also emerged that the workers took home only half of less than 20,000 yen ($220) in salary a day--suggesting that the difference was pocketed by Arai and his mob associates.

Arai was taken into custody earlier this month for a similar offense. Police said he dispatched two laborers to assist in the construction of temporary housing.

“The recovery operations involve a lot of money, so they are a godsend for gangs that have trouble making money due to a police crackdown on gang activities,” a gang insider said.

The man said these groups have been involved in the demolition of buildings and the disposal of waste in devastated areas. He also said some of them have been working as bouncers for restaurants and bars in the Tohoku region by offering lower rates than those demanded by local gangs.

Law enforcement authorities have been on alert against organized crime groups cashing in on recovery operations after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that spawned towering tsunami and triggered the nuclear disaster.

Police have detected 37 cases so far, but this is the first arrest over a gang member's suspected involvement in decontamination work.

By KENJI OGATA/ Senior Staff Writer
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Workers bag fallen leaves and branches in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Workers bag fallen leaves and branches in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Workers bag fallen leaves and branches in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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