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Six years after outbreak of crisis, Fukushima nuclear workers continue to face slander, discrimination: survey

JIJI

Workers at the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power plants have faced prolonged periods of stress after suffering slander and discrimination in the six years since the triple reactor meltdown at the No. 1 plant in March 2011, a university survey has found.

Over 10 percent of workers at the plants were slandered or discriminated against after the calamity, and many continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks and sleep disorders, the survey found.

The survey covered 1,417 employees for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. who worked at the No. 1 and No. 2 plants at the time of the disaster.

Of them, 181 people, or 12.8 percent, were slandered or suffered discrimination, according to the survey, which was conducted by a team that included Takeshi Tanigawa, a professor at Juntendo University’s Graduate School of Medicine in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward.

Just after the nuclear crisis erupted, the workers had a rate of post-traumatic stress disorder 5.7 times higher than other Tepco employees. Even three years later, the rate remained 3.7 times higher.

Taniguchi said anger at Tepco should not be directed at its employees, since they are also part of the reconstruction effort in the Tohoku region. The government, he added, should also support efforts to protect the physical and mental health of Tepco workers involved in the reactors’ decommissioning.