Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to use new visa rules to add foreign staff to its 2011 earthquake/tsunami cleanup efforts.

In January, a revision to Japan’s immigration laws went into effect. Under the new regulations, foreigners can be granted work visas for having work-ready “specified skills” in one of 14 areas for which a severe shortage of Japanese workers has been recognized.

Now, a major employer has announced that it plans to employ a number of foreigners under the new specified skill visa. That employer is TEPCO, also known as Tokyo Electric Power Company. Despite its size, TEPCO is a name that wasn’t particularly well-known by people outside Japan until 2011, since the company also manages the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was critically damaged during the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region.

Eight years later, decommissioning work is still going on at the plant, involving an average of roughly 4,000 workers a day. However, with preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo drawing construction workers to Tokyo, TEPCO says it’s having trouble staffing the decommissioning projects at the power plant, and so it plans to start hiring foreign workers for construction, cleaning, industrial machinery manufacturing, electronic information distribution, automotive maintenance, and food service positions at and around the facility.

TEPCO discussed the plan, which has the backing of Japan’s Ministry of Justice, with other coordinating companies in the decommissioning project late last month, before publicly making its plans known this week. “We explained that we want foreign workers who are authorized to work in the same manner that Japanese workers are, and we want them to be treated in accordance with the law.”

In addition, TEPCO is considering hiring foreign workers for positions at the currently inoperative Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture, which the company is looking to restart for the first time since a precautionary shutdown following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The company has not specified whether foreign workers hired for positions at the plants would be retained once the projects, which are likely to take several years, are finished.

Source: The Sankei News via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Yann
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