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Contractor skimmed pay of Vietnamese trainees doing Fukushima cleanup work

TOKYO -- A construction firm siphoned off the danger allowances of Vietnamese technical trainees it sent to do cleanup work in the Fukushima nuclear disaster area, the Environment Ministry announced on April 6.

    The firm, which assigned the technical trainees to radioactive decontamination and home demolition work, used false wage records in explaining that the allowances had been paid. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is investigating the firm for suspected violations of the Labor Standards Act.

    The foreign trainee system is intended to bring foreign workers from developing countries to Japan to learn technical skills.

    The Environment Ministry has confirmed that the construction firm skimmed off the trainees' danger allowances in 2016 and 2017, when they worked at a demolition site in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture.

    One of the trainees spoke about the pay-skimming at a news conference on March 14 this year. However, the construction firm had given Environment Ministry investigators the falsified wage records, and Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa stated on March 27 that the danger allowances had been paid.

    (Japanese original by Kazuhiro Igarashi, Science & Environment News Department)

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