Tomohiko Suzuki, author of the book The Yakuza and the Nuclear Industry, claims that several members of the Fukushima 50, workers who stayed behind to work on the Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear reactor post 3/11 when others fled, were Yakuza members. Was this the case?

Why I'm skeptical:

  1. Suzuki has apparently edited fanzines about the Yakuza, so I wouldn't be surprised if he has made exaggerated claims about them.
  2. I have encountered many bogus claims about nuclear energy - I wouldn't be surprised if some sections of the media biased against nuclear energy decided not to scrutinize these claims too closely.
  3. I have also seen dubious claims about organized crime. Sometimes people make extraordinary claims about its level of influence, while others (in both fiction, and non-fiction) have glamorized organized crime. Both the former and the latter would be consistent with bogus claims about the yakuza's involvement in the Fukushima 50.
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    Is there a specific grounds as to why you are skeptical about this claim? – rjzii Apr 19 '12 at 11:57
  • @RobZ are certain topics being BS magnets sufficient? Also, I wish I could ask about the occupational health and safety of the workers, but that'd be harder to give a clearcut answer to. – Andrew Grimm Apr 19 '12 at 12:45
  • Well, part of the reason that I wanted more clarification is because I might be able to craft a response. Plus, the yakuza is one of those odd organizations that is organized crime, but how they operate isn't quite the same as the Mafia in the United States which people normally tend to expect. – rjzii Apr 19 '12 at 13:52
  • @RobZ I guess I'm skeptical about how much civic duty the yakuza does. If you're thinking of stating that the yakuza does things beneficial to Japan without having an alterior motive, and you have reliable and unbiased sources to back it up, that would be useful. – Andrew Grimm Apr 19 '12 at 22:46
  • @RobZ Let me know if you need any more clarification. – Andrew Grimm Apr 19 '12 at 23:34

As it stands at this time, yes, there is some fairly significant evidence that yakuza are tied to Fukushima and arrests have been made in the matter. While the initial reports where largely made by Katsunobu Onda, the author of the expose TEPCO: The Dark Empire (東京電力・帝国の暗黒), the allagations have been picked up by some fairly reputable news sources some of which went on to do some investigative reporting on their own. 1

That said though, this involvement doesn't exactly appear to be altruistic as the yakuza was in a position to make significant profits from the relationship they had with TEPCO. Likewise, the workers themselves were not in a position to necessarily be picky about their work due to indebtedness to the yakuza or are alleged to have been mentally handicapped.

  1. See the Asahi Shimbun article previously linked.

What the article above mentions is that he found at the plant people who were:

homeless, chronically unemployed Japanese men, former yakuza, debtors who owed money to the yakuza, and the mentally handicapped.

If you look at the general situation in Japan, who is doing the most dirty and dangerous work in dubious conditions you'll find members of the above there.

They are often living in and recruited from Sanya, Tokyo; Kotobukicho in Yokohama; Kamagasaki in Osaka. E.g. In Kotobukicho a van draws up and picks up day labourers for casual work, no questions asked.

Are these people "members of the Yakuza", no. Are they employed by the Yakuza, most probably, yes.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Please only provide answers based on factual evidence. – Sklivvz Jun 26 '12 at 23:07

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